“The vaccine has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands in Europe” – WHO study

A study carried out by the World Health Organisation has shown that the Covid-19 vaccine has saved hundreds of thousands of lives in over 30 countries in Europe, although the vaccine on its own is not enough.

Dr Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, World Health Organisation Regional Director for the European Region, stressed that on the threshold of winter and with the number of cases increasing, we should continue to follow prevention measures including the wearing of masks.

“Where possible, when one is indoors, with other people, in schools, universities, workplaces when one is not outdoors but in an enclosed area, the mask helps. A second point is that Malta is blessed with a climate that has not been unkind so far and one can dine out rather than indoors and keep windows open for better circulation of air.”

The World Health Organisation believes that with the vaccination and its booster and with measures, it is possible that its forecast of up to half a million deaths from Covid between now and March will not materialise.

During the TVAM programme, Dr Azzopardi Muscat did not exclude that there may be those who will require an annual vaccination against Covid, just as with influenza. She added, however, that the pandemic has hardly been around for two years and studies are ongoing about the number of vaccine doses needed as well as frequency, to achieve good immunity.

“It could be, although we are not certain, that this situation will resemble that of influenza, and every season with the onset of winter there will be a band of people who will need to be vaccinated. We still don’t know, it is too early, but we have to be prepared for every eventuality.”

Dr Azzopardi Muscat further stated that countries that did not retain prevention measures, or that stopped the measures completely, and where not enough people have received the vaccine, are experiencing what she described as “an explosive cocktail” because they are seeing an increase in cases and more deaths. She added, however, that in countries like Malta where vaccinations have been high and where the third dose is being given to vulnerable persons, the number of deaths is not increasing at the same rate as cases.