Lhe new wave of Covid-19 sweeping through Europe is painfully dispelling the optimism fueled by the spring and summer vaccination campaigns. They seemed to condemn the pandemic to ebb, or at least bring it under control, it is no longer in question. Turning the page of repeated confinements and regulatory constraints that threaten freedoms as quickly as possible would indeed suppose that everyone takes their responsibilities by being vaccinated. We are still far from it, despite the progress made in record time.
Awareness of the limits inherent in this parade, which is essential to fight against Covid-19, without being an absolute weapon, is brutal. This shock probably explains the protests recorded in recent days in some countries after the return of constraints. This is the case of Austria, returned to the confinement regime and which is divided in the face of the prospect of compulsory vaccination, while 65% of the population has a complete vaccination schedule. In the Netherlands (more than 70% of people fully vaccinated) or in Belgium (more than 75%), the protest was even accompanied by violence.
With the exception of the latter country, already dramatically affected at the start of the pandemic, the current wave highlights the contrast between two Europe. Between a South overwhelmed in 2020 but which manages, more than a year later, to keep the Covid-19 at a relative distance, and a North and Eastern Europe now struggling, whereas it had succeeded to better contain the pandemic when it was in its infancy. The situation which prevails in Germany (68% of the vaccinated population) testifies to this, accentuated by the transition to the head of the federal state, which recalls the weight of the political decision vis-a-vis the virus.
Respect for barrier gestures
This anger which is expressed in Europe, but also in Guadeloupe when it comes to France, can be explained. It should not, however, blind. Two years or almost after the appearance of Covid-19, States now have a toolbox in the face of the pandemic. The place of vaccination and its extension to the greatest possible number of age groups are central here, but the latter alone cannot replace all the other forms of protection which multiply their effects tenfold. The European countries which paid the heaviest prices for the pandemic in 2020 are also those where barrier gestures, including wearing a mask, remain the best respected today. These are Italy (where 73% of the population has a full vaccination) and Spain (80%).
Even if a relaxation of vigilance has been observed there in recent weeks, France still ranks for the moment in the group of the most resistant countries, certainly because of the effectiveness of the health pass. Now trivialized, this device mobilizes against it only a sporadic protest and often a pretext for other protests more ideological than health.
The feeling of despondency should all the less prevail as the anti-Covid toolbox continues to grow richer and more powerful thanks to science. The development of effective treatments, in addition to vaccines and elementary protection measures, is now within reach. Discontent and weariness cannot therefore eclipse the continued strengthening of our common arsenal: the persistence of the pandemic is not inevitable.
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