No lockdown expected for the winter: Outbreak Team chair
Despite increasing coronavirus infections, Outbreak Management Team chairman Jaap van Dissel expects that lockdown measures like school closures or a curfew will not be necessary this coming winter. The Netherlands has a high vaccination rate; 85 percent of the population has had at least the first shot. "So we are in a fundamentally different situation than last year. Then we had no vaccines. So in all reality, I see no reason to advise such drastic measures," Van Dissel said in an interview with AD.
The OMT chairman finds it difficult to indicate whether we should be concerned now that the number of hospital admissions and coronavirus infections is rising. "That is more difficult to estimate than last year, and it depends on a number of things," Van Dissel told the newspaper. "Initially, the relationship between infections and hospital admissions was clearer. But due to the high vaccination rate, the ratio is now different. We now see many of the infections among young people, for example, which is relatively favorable for the number of hospital admissions. But it also depends on the rate of the spread in unvaccinated groups and regions where fewer people have been vaccinated."
He does not consider a major additional round of vaccination with a booster shot necessary for the time being. "It is understandable that you give a booster vaccination in nursing homes. The virus circulates more easily there, and it is more challenging to take isolation measures. But if you now opt for broad use of such a shot, like Israel is doing, you have to do it every six months. Do you want to prevent every mild symptom? Or only serious illness and hospital admissions? For the latter, a massive extra round of injections is not necessary for the time being."
Van Dissel thinks that the Netherlands could be freed from the coronavirus for the most part after the spring of 2022, but it is still up in the air. "That depends on a lot of factors, such as the duration of the immunity, the possible emergence of variants, imports from other countries, the availability of vaccines and our behavior, the willingness to vaccinate. But if the Delta variant is not supplanted and you keep a high vaccination coverage and immunity, then you could be relieved of the crisis to a significant extent after the spring."
Reporting by ANP