Covid pass and vaccines: better this than going back to lockdown
The evolution of the pandemic in northern Europe has once again put everyone on alert. Covid-19, as expected, has not disappeared and, therefore, at the slightest opportunity it is spreading again among the least protected people, either because they have not been vaccinated – a percentage which in some countries is so high that it makes us fear another dramatic winter – or because the vaccine's effect has started to wear off. Faced with this situation, there are two clear strategies that, this time, have been implemented throughout the European Union, at least as recommendations to member states. On Wednesday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recommended bringing back some restrictions and, above all, injecting a booster dose to the over-40s. In addition, this Thursday the European Medicines Agency has backed the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, where the biggest rise in infections was seen. This measure has already been approved in the United States and also in Israel.
Reinforcing vaccination among age groups that had not yet been allowed to receive the jab – because not enough studies had been carried out to prove its safety – and among the most vulnerable is an important step to contain the virus and avoid, in any case, that those infected may develop severe disease. It would also be necessary for the unvaccinated to reconsider their decision, since their exposure puts the rest in danger and is preventing the pandemic from being controlled more effectively. It is true that Catalonia, with a 75.6% vaccination rate, has done well. This has meant that the figures, for the moment, are at low levels compared to other European regions in which vaccination had stagnated. In any case, we cannot be too confident because the incidence is rising and, more seriously, hospital admissions are on the rise and there are signs of overcrowding in health centres.
It has been precisely these indicators that have allowed Catalonia's High Court to endorse the requirement of a covid certificate to access the interior of bars and restaurants, as well as gyms and nursing homes. So far, it had only been a requirement in nightlife venues, but now this requirement has been extended to avoid further contagion. In addition, the European Commission has proposed that covid passes should expire nine months after vaccination, with the exception of those who already have received a third dose. These measures are welcome if they mean harsher measures such as lockdown can be avoided. Nobody wants to go back to the lockdown we suffered last year, and even less so in the run-up to Christmas, which was supposed to be a time of recovery. Now the government needs to ensure that the businesses have the tools to be able to apply these measures and provide them with the necessary IT and management support. This nightmare is not over yet, but we have more and more tools to control it.