9th Dec 2023

EU Commission issues winter Covid warning

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The European Commission is demanding EU states take action to prevent a surge in Covid cases ahead of the autumn and winter months.

On Friday (2 September), it released a 15-page strategy paper that aims to battle the virus that is still killing some 2,300 people daily throughout the EU and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

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"The Covid-19 pandemic is still very much with us. Together, we must act in a coordinated way to avoid another surge of cases," said Stella Kyriakides, EU health commissioner, said in a tweet.

The paper recommends, among other things, that EU states improve vaccine uptake and ensure additional boosters for people at risk, including those over the age of 60 or at risk of any severe disease.

The paper notes a tripling of cases over the summer months, which has since tapered off, but remains high among people over the age of 65, and that vaccine uptake has barely changed.

Around 14 percent of adults remain unvaccinated and just over 35 percent have yet to receive their first booster, it says.

The commission's warning follows an announcement, by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), that it had approved two adapted versions of the Comirnaty and Spikevax vaccines.

These vaccines are designed to tackle different strains of the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus, in order to expand the immune response.

"Both can be used to re-vaccinate people from 12 years of age we have had their first two shots of primary vaccination," the EMA's Marco Cavaleri told reporters on Friday.

The two adaptive vaccines are authorised for revaccination regardless of the type of jab people have received previously, he said.

He also noted that both vaccines trigger strong immune responses against Omicron BA 1 and the original virus in people previously vaccinated.

"In particular, they were more effective at triggering immune responses against the BA.1 sub-variant than the original vaccines," he said.

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