Europe’s Covid wave shows jab uptake in UK is ‘critical’, Sage member says | Coronavirus

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The surge in coronavirus infections across Europe shows the “critical” need for people in the UK to get vaccinated, a government scientific adviser has said.

Prof John Edmunds, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told Sky News that the rise in cases on the continent underlined “how quickly things can go wrong”. He pointed out that there were still “many millions” across the UK who were still not fully vaccinated, while some have not had any Covid shots at all.

Whitehall sources this weekend played down the immediate need for “plan B” restrictions, pointing to data published this week showing the protection offered by a booster shot.

Alongside maximising the uptake of third doses, officials hope the lifting of restrictions earlier in the year will mean that Britain avoids the winter surges currently being experienced in many European countries.

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However, Edmunds, who is a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said: “There are still many millions of people here in the UK who have not been fully vaccinated – it’s essential now.

“What you see now, particularly in central Europe, with this very rapid increase in cases, [is] the importance of vaccination, how critical it is that people who need their boosters should come forward as rapidly as possible and get vaccinated.

“Those who are still unvaccinated – and there are many unfortunately out there – should come forward and be vaccinated as rapidly as possible.”

He added: “[The current surge in Europe] shows how quickly things can go wrong. I am concerned about waning immunity. The booster doses, it is pretty clear, do give a clear boost to your immune system, which may last some considerable time, so I think it’s really essential that the booster doses are rolled out as fast as possible.”

His comments came as the World Health Organization said it was “very worried” about the new wave of infections that has spread across Europe and led countries to announce new restrictions.

The WHO’s Europe director, Dr Hans Kluge, told the BBC: “Covid-19 has become once again the number one cause of mortality in our region. We know what needs to be done.”

He called for more people to get vaccinated, basic public health measures to be implemented and new treatments to be developed, but said mandatory vaccination should be the last resort.

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