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Coronavirus cases grow and Europe debates how to force ‘no vacs’ to vaccinate

To do? Europe is at the epicenter of the tragic fourth wave of the coronavirus, Delta variant, the most contagious and lethal since the pandemic began. They help the winter cold that is approaching, the loss of efficacy of the vaccines after six months of application.

And the fierce minority of millions who resist immunizations. Austria opened the way to punish the “no vacs” to make them give way and accelerate group protection that must block the circulation of the virus.

It is in full debate how to find the key that requires vaccination to the wayward, who even know how to organize into fierce and even violent groups.

But in the Balkans and in Eastern Europe the no vacs they are a natural majority. There, the Bulgarian and Romanian-style hell is lived, created by populations that are 60-70% distrustful of vaccines, causing a trail of infected and dead. Russia is the most difficult case.

Rules for entering a bar in Erfurt, Germany. AFP photo

Ideas to put those resisting back on track and put down are the order of the day in western European countries, not in the former communist east.

Restrictions

Austria, with 9 million inhabitants, is the first European country to reintroduced restrictions that seemed out of date and that they were the instrument that served to reduce the circulation of the virus in the first wave, back in February 2020, when vaccines were not available.

Two million Austrians who so far rejected all calls to get vaccinated for three days they can’t leave home if it is not for work, to do the home shopping, to take a walk around the neighborhood. The philosophy consists in pointing out them as responsible for social selfishness and, by contrast, exalting the recognition of those who have been vaccinated.

The measure will last until November 24 and the transgressors will pay fines of up to 1,450 euros.

Regional authorities will be able to introduce further restriction measures if the infections become even more serious. At night parties with more than 25 people it will not be enough to show the Health Passport with the immunization or the certificate of cure. A negative swab will also be necessary.

Tourists in Valencia, Spain.  Reuters photo

Tourists in Valencia, Spain. Reuters photo

Prime Minister Alexander Schallenberg, who announced the measures, said: “We have decided to apply these measures to protect the population.” Austria registers 65% of vaccinated, that the premier considered “Embarrassingly low.”

The pandemic hits hard: two days ago there were 12 thousand new cases with 40 deaths, while the weekly incidence rises to 900 infections per one hundred thousand inhabitants. A disaster because no more than 50 infected per 100,000 people is considered a manageable figure in order to track cases and prevent spread.

The Austrian case is followed with great attention at the European level. In the first days there was a significant increase in the lines to get vaccinated, but the important thing is that the momentum is maintained.

The Delta variant

In Italy the debate is intense. There are 86% of those vaccinated over 12 years of age, But the enemies of the saving prick are more than seven million, enough to destroy the entire hospital system if the increase in infections is triggered even more, which according to projections would reach 30 thousand daily infections by the end of the year.

In the twenty regions of the country, followers of the Austria model of imposing restrictions only on those who do not get vaccinated predominate. Italy presents today a virtuous model fight against Covid_19.

Although the attack with the development of the Delta variant of the virus came in the middle of this year, when it was least expected, it was possible to contain the dominant virus today at 97%, four or five times more contagious than the previous ones in this pandemic, and maintain a controlled level of infections and a low number of deaths.

But now the fourth wave gallops. The hospital system holds up well. The number of hospitalized and patients in intensive care is low. The good system of colored stripes that are changing and increasing the restrictions, is now governed by the numbers. 10% in intensive care and 15% in hospitalizations change from current white to yellow.

Then follow the orange and red levels. Gradually it returns to the closures of activities, curfews and quarantines. If necessary, mini red areas are implanted where immobilization is higher in scenarios with pandemic outbreaks.

The governors maintain that the vast majority of the population supported mass vaccinations and received with resignation the discipline of restrictions, which in the worst “red” moments left the streets deserted, closed to hundreds of thousands of businesses and industries.

Quarantines cost Italians dearly. The country lost ten percent of its national wealth. Now it is recovering well, the positive rate of increase in economic activity reaches 6.5%.

The resistance of those against vaccination threaten so much effort. This is also said by the government, which does not dare to take the maximum step of imposing tougher measures on those who do not get vaccinated, Austria-style.

The passport

A middle way is to approve a new Health Passport, a green card that would lose the option of getting swabs instead of presenting the certification of vaccinations or cure for the virus, which provides a long natural defense.

This measure would put those who go to work today in trouble by getting negative swabs that last 48 hours. The goal would be to force them to get vaccinated without declaring immunization mandatory.

The situation is increasingly delicate in northeastern Italy, bordering Austria and Slovenia, which are experiencing an extraordinary increase in their pandemics. Massimiliano Fedriga is the governor of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. He belongs to the League, the right-wing party led by Matteo Salvini, contrary to measures against non-vacs.

But Fedriga, like the other governors on the right, are hardliners. “The restrictions cannot be in charge of the vaccinated, who have taken two or three doses, protecting themselves but also the community,” he says.

In Friuli Venezia Giulia and in the Trentino Alto Adige region, hospitalized and patients grow of intensive therapies. Soon they will go from white to yellow and the first restrictions will be inevitable.

The governor of Liguria (Genoa) Giovanni Toti, also from the right-wing alliance that polls give as the majority if there are elections, agrees with his center-left colleagues. “The one who does not get vaccinated cannot frequent the places where you put your health and that of others at risk ”.

In Germany, with only 66% vaccinated, the Austrian example arouses the greatest interest. The pandemic is getting stronger and the “terrifying” calculation, according to a scientist at the Robert Koch Institute of Diseases, Infections, is that if it is not controlled, it will reach 40 thousand cases a day in the coming months, with a death forecast of one hundred thousand deaths. .

In Munich, the mayor Dieter Leiter should have announced “with bitterness” that on Monday the 22nd they will not open the so traditional Christmas markets due to the exponential increase in infections. It is the second sad Christmas for the Germans. A part of public opinion calls for effective measures to force everyone to get vaccinated and accuse those who do not get vaccinated.

In Belgium the government announced that doctors and health personnel who do not get vaccinated will be fired immediately.

In Russia there is an unofficial estimate that only 32% of the population has been vaccinated. Across Eastern Europe, most residents are wary of vaccination campaigns. Many prefer to go to the Balkan countries to get vaccinated like Croatia, which offers to DJ with the refined western substances, like Pfizer and Moderna, to visitors who declare themselves tourists.

Last Sunday Russia registered 1,211 deaths, Ukraine 442 and Romania 233. Bulgaria is the country with the most deaths per capita in the world.

Unlike West Europeans, in former communist countries no pressure campaigns those who are not vaccinated, which are the majority.

PB

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