New Covid variants pose very high risk of spread, EDCD warns
Saturday, 23 January 2021
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published a new COVID-19 risk assessment related to the spread of the new variants of the virus.
ECDC assesses the probability of the introduction and community spread of variants of concern in the EU/EEA as very high due to its increased transmissibility.
“We are currently seeing deteriorating epidemiological situations in areas where more transmissible variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have become established,” ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said. “An increasing number of infections will lead to higher hospitalisation and death rates across all age-groups, particularly for those in older age groups or with co-morbidities.”
According to ECDC, a combination of measures, including physical distancing, increased level of surveillance, sequencing of samples, and rigorous contact tracing and quarantine are needed to effectively curb the spread of the new variants. Member states are also encouraged to accelerate vaccination of high-risk groups, and prepare the healthcare system for high demand.
In order to control the spread and impact of emerging variants with increased transmissibility, a combination of compliance with stricter non-pharmaceutical interventions than those currently implemented, and strengthened case detection with contact tracing would be required.
To slow down the importation and spread of the new variants of concern, ECDC recommends that non-essential travel should be avoided. Member states are also encouraged to accelerate vaccination of high-risk groups such as the elderly and health care workers.
According to the Commission, ECDC is working on a platform on the state of play of vaccinations, based on input from member states. This is expected to be operational soon and will help monitoring the state of play. The new platform will show both the quantities of delivered vaccine doses to the member states and the actual use of them.