Update (1200ET): Spain has also moved to force its citizens to wear masks outdoors again, a practice that has shown to be not effective at stopping transmission, as panic about the winter surge proves that most European nations haven't learned anything from last year.
As the NYT reminds us, most European countries are embracing pediatric vaccines while tightening restrictions on both the unvaccinated, and the broader public.
European officials hope that new restrictions and greater access to vaccines will blunt the latest rising wave of coronavirus cases reported in the days leading up to Christmas and New Year’s. Colder weather and holiday traditions are bringing people from different households together indoors, where health experts say the virus spreads most readily.
Vaccinations for children under 12 started last week in much of Europe. The French authorities said on Wednesday that they were making all children 5 to 11 eligible, and a vaccine advisory committee in Britain recommended inoculating children that age who are in certain risk groups.
Recent data from France suggests that unvaccinated children are helping drive the accelerating spread of the virus there. The incidence of infection among children aged 6 to 10 is now twice that for the population as a whole, according to a study published last week by the French health authorities. A similar pattern was seen in Italy, where schoolchildren and young adults account for the majority of recent cases, experts there said.
“Vaccination of children is a necessity,” Prime Minister Jean Castex of France said last month. “It was my 11-year-old daughter who gave me the virus a few weeks ago.”
That's right, it's "absolutely necessary" to vaccinate children...even though a minuscule percentage of children infected with the virus actually succumb to it.
Italy, meanwhile, has reported a record number of new cases identified in a day on Thursday with 44,595.
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Wasn't it Stalin who said 'the death of one person is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic', or something close to that?
Whoever said it, it's too bad they aren't around to witness the world's reaction to the latest COVID wave.
Few would contest the claim that the media, in the US and around the world, have been spreading panic about the omicron wave, amplifying FUD that has (mildly) impacted equity markets, and terrified millions during a second consecutive holiday season.
But every once in a while, we think, it's helpful to give the people a break from the madness, and offer instead a glimpse at the reality.
And the reality is that, as numbers of confirmed COVID cases skyrocket (a phenomenon that has, coincidentally enough, occurred alongside a surge in testing), Germany has only just today confirmed its first death of a person infected with omicron.
As a reminder, Germany, Ireland, and The Netherlands have reimposed partial or full lockdowns and measures in recent days, citing the surging winter caseload and warnings from the scientific community about the threat posed by omicron (a strain that, although it appears to spread more quickly, is clearly causing fewer hospitalizations and deaths, according to research published by several different sources yesterday). Germany's health minister said Wednesday he had not ruled out a full lockdown to suppress Omircon's spread.
Meanwhile, in Italy, a country that was unfortunately traumatized by COVID during the first wave, the federal government has decided to reduce the duration of the country's "green pass" for vaccinated Italians to six months from 9.
In addition, the Italian government has mandated wearing masks outdoors again, for all who dare stray from their homes during the holiday season. Local governments, like Rome, have been imposing outdoor mask mandates of their own in recent weeks.
Now, here are the two charts readers need to put this all in context: cases and deaths tallies from Germany and Italy.
It makes us wonder: has the scientific community really learned nothing from the COVID pandemic?