European CDC raises concern over rising Covid cases, calls for vax



Paris, Sep 9 (IANS) The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on Saturday raised concern over the “noticeable increase in signals of SARS-CoV-2 transmission” in European countries. The agency said the rise in cases deviates from previously very low levels, and blamed large gatherings and increased travel for the increase in the number of cases.

The ECDC said as per data from 24 countries there has been a rise in 14-day case rate, although the magnitude of the observed increase is far lower than previous epidemic peaks.

Countries reporting age-specific data show increased case rates in people ages 65 and older, a group known to be at higher risk for severe disease.

Meanwhile, test positivity was up in 12 of 19 reporting countries. Hospitalisation and intensive care unit admission levels were stable, but a few countries reported a rise in death rates from Covid, especially among older people.

In total, 135 deaths were reported by 18 countries.

“SARS-CoV-2 continues to acquire mutations that enable its circulation at unpredictable times throughout the year. Recent transmission increases have coincided with the emergence of Omicron sub-lineages, particularly the XBB.1.5-like variants,” the ECDC said in its latest epidemiological report.

“While global case detections of BA.2.86 are limited, low-level community transmission is suspected in multiple countries. BA.2.86 is highly divergent from currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 strains, raising concerns of increased re-infections if it outcompetes existing variants,” it added.

In addition, there have been reports of waning levels of immunological protection against infection, although severe disease remains well protected against in the general population.

“Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that infection with one of the emerging variants is associated with more severe disease or a reduction in vaccine effectiveness when compared to other currently circulating variants,” ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said in the report.

“However, older individuals and those with underlying health conditions remain at an increased risk of severe disease if infected, so autumn vaccination programmes should prioritise protecting individuals at risk of severe disease, such as those aged over 60 years and other vulnerable groups,” she added.

The ECDC emphasised the need for vaccination amid the high-risk groups and also called countries for increasing surveillance against Covid.




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