Risk of autumn Covid surge in countries without vaccination coverage – ECDC

Further 102 deaths recorded in September, marking highest monthly figure since March

Sixty-one per cent of the total population of the EU is fully vaccinated. Photograph: Getty Images

Sixty-one per cent of the total population of the EU is fully vaccinated. Photograph: Getty Images

 

There is a high risk of a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths this autumn in countries with insufficient vaccination coverage, the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) has warned.

Vulnerable, fully vaccinated people are still at risk of experiencing infection with severe outcomes, it says in its latest rapid risk assessment.

Only 61 per cent of the total population of the EU is fully vaccinated, and only three countries – Malta, Portugal and Iceland – have vaccinated more than 75 per cent of their population.

Ireland, with 72.8 per cent of the population vaccinated, is just short of the 75 per cent threshold set by the ECDC.

“Forecasts show that a combination of high vaccination coverage and effective contact reduction is crucial for reducing the risk of high Covid-19 burden on health care systems this autumn,” ECDC director Andrea Ammon said.

“Countries should continuously strive to increase their vaccination coverage in all eligible age groups, regardless of current vaccination coverage levels, to limit the burden of infections posed by the Delta variant.”

Depending on disease rates in a country, non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as distancing and masks, may also be need until the end of November, she warned.

The report anticipates greater proportions of cases amongst children will be reported in the coming months and says physical distancing, good hygiene and improved ventilation will remain essential to prevent transmission in schools.

Closing any vaccination gaps in vulnerable populations and healthcare workers before the winter months will be “critical” to mitigate risks to health services, it adds.

Meanwhile, there were 102 Covid-19 deaths in September, the highest monthly figure since March, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

This compares with 71 deaths in August.

A total of 5,249 deaths have been recorded in the pandemic, giving a mortality rate of 1.1 per 1,000 people.

Four deaths of people aged under 25 years are recorded in the latest HPSC report, down from seven in the previous week.

The Health Service Executive was requested to clarify the change in figures, but had not done so by Thursday evening. However, it appears that the fall in recorded deaths among young people is due to the exclusion of Covid-related stillbirths from the figures.

The age range of those who have died in the pandemic is 16 years to 105; previously, the age-range was given as 0-105.