As the Delta variant spreads, Europe is waving a big stick to step up vaccination

According to thousands of protesters who took to the streets of Paris, Montpellier and other French towns this week, their country has become a “dictatorship” and its president is restoring “apartheid”.

The reason for their anger: Emmanuel Macron (Emmanuel Macron) decided to force all health care workers to receive the Covid-19 vaccine before imposing it on others. French people must now prove that they are either vaccinated or tested negative for the virus recently before they can enter cafes, restaurants, cinemas, high-speed rail or shopping malls. In the fall, the coronavirus test will no longer be free.

Less than a year before the presidential election, the parade rekindled people Yellow vest He shocked France in 2018 and 2019, when grassroots protests triggered by motorists’ anger over fuel taxes developed into months of anti-government movements.

Macron’s move comes as European countries are struggling to contain the rapidly spreading delta variant that was originally discovered in India and now dominates most EU countries. Since less than half of the population is fully vaccinated, governments are trying to force their citizens to be vaccinated to limit the surge of new infections and avoid new restrictions.

Macron is following in the footsteps of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who became the first person in Europe to vaccinate health workers in April after an outbreak in hospitals and nursing homes. Greece and Latvia followed suit this week, threatening disobedient workers to lose their jobs.

About 4,000 people protested in Athens on Wednesday. In the UK, a petition against mandatory vaccination of health and social care workers has received more than 93,000 signatures.

4000 people protested in Athens on Wednesday against Greece’s decision to order health workers to be vaccinated after an outbreak in hospitals and nursing homes © Angelos Tzortinis/AFP/Getty Images

Mandatory vaccination in Europe is not new: 40% of countries have some form of vaccination Compulsory vaccinationAccording to Anna Odone, a professor of public health at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan, this includes hepatitis B, measles and meningitis for children.

She said that compulsory vaccines “need to be used in emergencies, and we live in emergencies.”

There is a direct link between the rising hospitalization rate in Europe and whether people have been vaccinated.In the 30 largest hospitals in France, every intensive care patient Not vaccinated, The government said this week. In Greece, this figure is 99%.

The chart shows that the Delta variant is becoming popular globally

Although a few people protested loudly, data from France and Italy show that the government’s coercive measures are working.

Since the decree was issued in April in Italy, the number of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths of nursing home residents has decreased to the point that the cases have almost disappeared. This drove the trend that began in February when the country implemented a targeted vaccination campaign among residents.

According to data from the appointment website Doctolib, in France, since Macron’s speech on Monday, more than 3 million vaccine appointments have been booked, and the number of appointments per day far exceeds the previous record. About 60% of them are people under the age of 35, who have previously been slow to seek vaccination.

European hesitation on vaccines has been declining. According to data from the polling agency Odoxa, in France, more than 8 out of every 10 adults said they have or will be vaccinated, which is twice the rate in December last year.

An opinion poll showed that three-quarters of people support mandatory vaccination for nursing staff, and 61% agreed to extend the use of the “health passport.” Figaro. Another opinion poll showed that only 20% of Italians oppose compulsory vaccination.

French Minister of European Affairs Clément Beaune said that the soaring bookings “shows that among those who have not been vaccinated, only a very small number of people oppose vaccination”.

Mircea Sofonea, an infectious disease modeler at the University of Montpellier, said the fear of the forthcoming fourth wave of infection means that most people are willing to do everything possible to stop the spread of the virus.

Shows the bar, total and 7-day rolling average of French vaccination appointments

He said: “If 60% or 70% of the population is vaccinated by the end of summer, the fourth wave of hospitalization can be delayed or reduced.”

However, many people still have doubts about the ethics of these tasks. For Professor Adam Finn, who is a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization of the British Government, the most successful vaccine program “does not have to provide sticks or carrots” but relies on clear communication.

“It took decades to build this level of trust,” he said. “My intuition is that when it works well, be careful not to interfere with it.”

Additional reporting by Daniel Dombey, Eleni Varvitsioti and Guy Chazan

Countries that enforce the jab

Turkmenistan decided on July 7 that all adults over the age of 18 must be vaccinated unless they have a medical reason not to be vaccinated.

Indonesia made it mandatory for all adults to be vaccinated in February, and the capital Jakarta threatened to refuse a fine of up to 5 million rupiah (US$357).

Australia mandated vaccinations for high-risk caregivers in June, effective from September

Italy introduced new regulations on April 1. If medical staff refuse to be vaccinated, they will be transferred, demoted or suspended without pay.

Latvia announced this week that it will enforce the Covid-19 certificate for people working in the health sector, social care workers and those engaged in education.

Greece said this week that staff in nursing homes will immediately compulsorily vaccinate and require medical staff to be vaccinated before September 1.

The United Kingdom passed a law on Tuesday that mandates all nursing home staff registered with the Care Quality Commission to be vaccinated or they will face unemployment. Plan to consult with all NHS and primary care personnel.

The Valencia region of Spain hopes to follow the example of France, requiring people to prove that they are vaccinated before going to restaurants, bars, hotels or nightclubs.

In Germany, the Minister of Health stated that he is considering allowing people to pay for coronavirus tests, which are currently free.

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