With about three-quarters of the European population fully vaccinated, countries have started to ease Pandemic restrictions.
After completing the vaccination program for three-quarters of the population of the European continent against COVID, and the receding of the Omicron wave, some European countries started to ease pandemic restrictions. On the other hand, as the wall-to-wall coverage of the pandemic has receded amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the death toll continues to grow.
According to the Our World in Data, in seven days to March 27, more than 6 900 people died because of COVID-19. The week before deaths registered were about 33 000 people across the globe, of which 40 percent were placed in the World Health Organization's European region. The death toll has grown to over 6.1 million, where more than 1 million are located in 31 European countries.
"I think it's important to make clear that this pandemic is not over despite the fact that many restrictions are being lifted across a lot of higher-income countries," said Euronews Rebecca Forman, a health policy consultant at the London School of Economics and Social Sciences (LSE). Many countries have dropped restrictions such as free testing and mandatory self-isolation for suspected cases or people with mild symptoms and face mask requirements with some caveats such as on public transport or in medical facilities, which comprises imperative measures in light of this pandemic.
These measures are aimed at the high rate of vaccination and the dismissal of the Omicron wave in the region. More than 72 percent of the population have completed the vaccination two-dose program and more than half are receiving the booster shot. Although, a high vaccination rate might just not be high enough. The lifting of the mandates could mean "governments are making themselves more vulnerable to being blindsided by this disease again."
Anne Senequier, a researcher at IRIS, a think tank, said that "the problem is that today Omicron BA1 (strain) and even more so BA2 have a virological profile quite close to the measles virus which requires a vaccination coverage close to 95 percent." She noted that the EU's vaccination rate "is good, but it is still not enough."