Covid cases are on the rise across Europe as governments re-impose restrictions in response to measures that many felt were unnecessary vaccines.
Austria entered complete isolation on November 22… Angela Merkel called for tougher restrictions in Germany, and her government’s health minister predicted that by the end of winter “almost everyone in Germany … will be vaccinated, cured or die“. Meanwhile, the Netherlands imposed three weeks of partial isolation over the weekend, and Belgium tightened rules on face masks.
The question arises: can the UK government impose similar restrictions? Late October Boris Johnson said that another isolation was not “on the map”. But Covid cases in the UK remain high. Seven days before November 23 (Tuesday) more than 297,000 people. people tested positive in the UK and 978 people died within 28 days of testing positive. The government faced some calls for the introduction of the so-called measures of plan B, which keep in mind compulsory wearing of masks in certain conditions, encouraging people to work from home and introducing vaccine passports.
But there are reasons why the UK is in a better position than most of the continent. First, the number of cases in the UK is not growing at the same rate as in other European countries. In Austria, for example, there has been a sharp increase in the incidence since mid-October. Although the daily number of cases has surpassed 25,000 since mid-July, the UK has not seen such a dramatic spike since fall.
Second, the UK booster program has reached more people than other countries in Europe. More than 27 percent population over 12 years of age received revaccination. This is important because early research proposes these three doses provide 93% protection against symptomatic disease.
Thirdly, the level of immunity in the UK is higher than in other European countries. In the UK in summer, infection rates were much higher than in many parts of the continent, where restrictions were lifted only in the fall. Early preprint study suggests that the combination of widespread vaccine availability and natural immunity from infection means England would have the fewest hospitalizations if everyone were exposed to the virus, compared to 18 other European countries. This may help explain why a country like the Netherlands, despite having a higher vaccination rate, has the highest incidence of Covid than the UK.
What about Christmas? Last year, the government pledged not to impose strict restrictions on Christmas, before turning sharply 180 degrees due to the rise in cases. While vaccines have provided a level of protection against the virus that has reduced the need for restrictions, the current uncertainty about the success of the revaccination program and the risk of a new variant emerging means it’s too early to tell what Christmas 2021 will look like.
[See also: Should I get a Covid-19 booster jab?]