More Europeans vaccinated against COVID-19 than have had the virus now

  • 2021-05-06
  • 1754

For the first time in 2 months, new cases fell significantly last week. Yet, infection rates across the Region remain extremely high.

Across most countries, individual and collective public health and social measures remain dominant factors in shaping the pandemic’s course.

Crucially, national governments in the Region are slowly but surely protecting those most at risk of severe disease and death through vaccination. To date, some 215 million doses of vaccine have been administered. Approximately 16% of the Region’s population has had a first vaccine dose, and 81% of health workers in 28 countries in the Region have had a first dose.

Where vaccination rates in high-risk groups are highest, admissions to hospitals are decreasing and death rates are falling. Vaccines are saving lives, and they will change the course of this pandemic and eventually help end it.

We also need to be conscious of the fact that vaccines alone will not end the pandemic. Without informing and engaging communities, they remain exposed to the virus. Without surveillance, we can’t identify new variants. And without contact tracing, governments may need to reimpose restrictive measures.

Every year during European Immunization Week, we highlight the fact that for over 200 years, vaccines have protected us against life-threatening diseases. Today they help protect against more than 20 diseases, from pneumonia to cervical cancer and now also COVID-19.

Here in the European Region, it has been 462 days since the first COVID-19 cases were reported. Based on numbers of confirmed cases, 5.5% of the entire European population has now had COVID-19, while 7% has completed a full vaccination series.

But even as new cases, hospitalizations and deaths decline, the threat remains present. The virus still carries the potential to inflict devastating effects. As a matter of fact, close to half of all COVID-19 infections in the Region since January last year were reported to WHO during the first 4 months of this year.

Vaccines are a tool of no use when sitting on shelves in cold rooms, but life-saving when injected into people’s arms. Ultimately, it is us, the people who receive them, who make them work for the good of all.

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