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New wave of covid in Europe: without a chinstrap and drinking wine by the Thames

Bars are closed in Vienna and the Christmas market is empty in Munich as various European nations harden or even they close to fight a contagion peak by coronavirus.

Meanwhile, in London, couples they drink mulled wine At a seasonal market near the River Thames, crowds fill seats at the nearby National Theater and friends gather over pints of beer in city pubs.

This is not the first time that Great Britain is unchecked of many of your neighbors during the pandemic. But this time glad to be different.

Oxford Street crowded with shoppers for Black Friday in London. Photo: AP

The UK has endured three national closures and has recorded nearly 145,000 deaths from the coronavirus, the highest in Europe after Russia.

Now he is watching how hospitals fight against the increase in cases in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, which has led to closures and restrictions.

But while Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that a “blizzard from the east” could still ruin Christmas in Britain, many scientists say the wind is blowing now in the opposite direction.

“We are not behind Europe in this wave. They are behind us, “said Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia.

The surge now hitting continental Europe, fueled by the highly transmissible delta strain of the virus, hit Britain in the summer, just as the government removed all restrictions legal issues that remained in the economy and everyday life.

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Source: Johns Hopkins
Chart: Flourish | Infographic: Clarion

Given that Britain received the delta strain in summer, when respiratory viruses are less easily transmitted, “it was not as explosive as you would expect in winter, and as we are seeing now in some European countries,” said Mark Woolhouse, professor of modeling. of Infectious Diseases from the University of Edinburgh.

“I think the UK had its delta wave in a fortuitous momentWhile in Austria, for example, it is exactly the opposite, “he said.

Austria, where the average daily death has almost doubled in the last two weeks, entered a lockdown, and the authorities are planning impose vaccination as of February 1st.

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Chart: Flourish | Infographic: Clarion

Europe, epicenter of the pandemic

The World Health Organization declared this week that Europe is the only region in the world in which cases of coronavirus are increasing, and that the continent could suffer another 700,000 deaths in spring if urgent measures are not taken soon.

Yet Britain remains a bit on the sidelines.

Bars closed in Belgium.  Photo: AP

Bars closed in Belgium. Photo: AP

Many scientists predicted that the country would have a peak in cases after July 19 (called “Freedom Day” by the media), when almost all restrictions were lifted. It was not so.

Contagion rates, which were among the highest in Europe at the time, They went up and down, but they never shot again as feared, although they remain stubbornly tall.

In Great Britain there are more than 40,000 new cases per day, a level last seen during last winter’s surge. But a relatively high vaccination rate – especially among the elderly – means that hospitalizations and deaths they are much smaller than in previous waves.

Even so, in the last week 130 people died a day after testing positive for COVID-19.

British hospitals they have not been overwhelmed for COVID-19 cases, although they are very busy, as the health system struggles to eliminate the huge backlog accumulated during the pandemic.

So far, Johnson’s Conservative government has not had to launch your “Plan B”, that would reintroduce the use of chinstraps and orders to work from home to relieve pressure on the health system.

The Johnson administration has not had to launch its "Plan B", which would reintroduce the use of chinstraps.  Photo: AP

The Johnson administration has not had to implement its “Plan B”, which would reintroduce the use of chinstraps. Photo: AP

The South African variant

This could change. The pandemic’s ability to deliver unpleasant surprises was revealed on Friday, when Britain banned flights from South Africa and other countries over a new variant that scientists call worrying, due to its high number of mutations and rapid spread.

For now, life in Britain may seem unusually normal, even festiveas many embrace the holiday season with renewed enthusiasm. But it’s a new normal more restricted.

Visitors from countries where restrictions are still in place are sometimes surprised by Britain’s voluntary and variable approach to wearing chinstraps and social distancing.

But Ivo Vlaev, a behavioral scientist at the University of Warwick who has studied data from across Europe, says people in the UK largely stuck to protective measures – including limiting their contacts with other people. even though they were no longer required by law.

Movement data suggest that the British they keep traveling and interacting less than before the pandemic.

“It seems that in the UK people is more compliant generally in all health protection behaviors “than in other European nations, Vaev said.

In part, he says, the reason is “fear; in fact, we are quite afraid to go out and do the usual things “after the ordeal of the pandemic in Britain.

While some European countries resort to coercion to get more people vaccinated, the UK clings to persuasion.

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Cases in Europe

Tap to explore the data
Tap to explore the data



Source: OWID
Infographic: Clarion

In Great Britain not required a proof of vaccination to attend events or workplaces was widely accepted, and the government ruled out the possibility of compulsory vaccination, although health and welfare workers have been ordered to be vaccinated.

In Great Britain there was not as much resistance to the vaccine as in other countries, and about 88% of people 12 years and older have been vaccinated at least once.

But only 68% of the population is fully vaccinated– a lower figure than other European countries, in part because the UK took longer than many of its neighbors to offer vaccines to children aged 12-15, and has not yet approved vaccines for younger children.

The government focuses on administration of booster doses those most vulnerable to serious diseases, offering a third vaccine to all people aged 40 years and older, six months after the second.

“Get the booster shot as soon as you can”, the prime minister said this week. “Because thanks to the vaccination of our country we have been able to get its staff to return to the workplace, to open our theaters, our restaurants and to return, for longer than any country in comparison, to something similar to normal life.”

Some public health specialists and opposition politicians say the government relies too much on vaccination to keep the virus at bay. They want mandatory chinstraps, social distancing and other measures to return.

But some epidemiologists are cautiously optimistic that enough is being done to keep the virus at bay during the winter. Perhaps ironically, Hunter claims that Britain’s high number of coronavirus cases puts it in a stronger position than those countries where the virus is on the rise.

“They have populations that they are not so well immunized, either from the vaccine or from the infection, like us, “he said.” We still have much more immunity by natural infection than most European countries, and we are rolling out the booster. That is why we will have a less troublesome winter than most. “

By Jill Lawlless, Associated Press

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