The European Union health agency on Wednesday called on member states to “urgently” introduce measures to reduce the potentially “very high burden” from Covid-19 in December and January.
The director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Andrea Ammon, recommended Covid booster shots for all adults over the age of 18, “with a priority for people above 40 years old”.
The agency also urged countries to increase their overall vaccination rates, especially those with low uptake.
Under 70 percent of the overall population in the EU and the European Economic Area (Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland) have been fully vaccinated.
“This leaves a large vaccination gap that cannot be bridged rapidly and gives ample room for the virus to spread,” the ECDC said.
“We need to urgently focus on closing this immunity gap, offer booster doses to all adults, and reintroduce non-pharmaceutical measures,” Ammon said in video remarks.
Her warning came just one day after the European branch of the World Health Organization said that up to 700,000 more people could die from Covid-19 by March 2022 in Europe and Central Asia, in addition to the 1.5 million who have already succumbed to the virus.
The latest ECDC modelling scenarios “indicate that the potential burden of disease in the EU/EEA from the Delta variant will be very high in December and January unless public health measures are applied now in combination with continued efforts to increase vaccine uptake in the total population.”
In the EU overall, 67.7 percent of the population is fully vaccinated but vaccination levels vary widely between countries.
Only 24.2 percent of Bulgarians are fully vaccinated compared to 86.7 percent in Portugal.
© Agence France-Presse