New wave of coronavirus infections next autumn seems unavoidable, experts say
Medical experts told NOS that a spike in coronavirus infections next fall is likely despite an increasing number of people fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Extra measures, such as face masks, to stop the spread of the coronavirus will continue to be part of daily life, the experts said.
"The delta variant is too infectious. And the vaccine does not protect enough against infections," epidemiologist Alma Tostmann said.
The vaccines have largely been doing their job in keeping emergency rooms from getting maxed out. Despite the high number of coronavirus infections, hospital admissions for Covid-19 patients have been relatively low. The majority of hospitalized Covid-19 patients were not vaccinated.
Yet, the experts said that additional measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus would continue to be necessary for the future. Epidemiologist Luc Coffeng said face masks should become the norm in the Netherlands. "The virus will remain circulating. I count on the virus teaching us that we have to adjust our behavior or consider measures," Coffeng said.
"We have to continue to avoid handshaking. Not go to work when you have symptoms. Keep distance whenever possible. And working from home should become institutionalized," professor of vaccinology Cécile van Els said.
The hope that the population would be able to be rid of the coronavirus once and for all through herd immunity has diminished. More than 84 percent of the adult population in the Netherlands has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the RIVM. The Cabinet has been discussing plans to give the elderly and healthcare workers a chance to get a third vaccine as early as December.
Immunologist Marojelin van Egmond said that a booster vaccine could help raise immunity and prevent infections. Although Van Egmond pointed out that countries with a low Covid-19 vaccination rate should first get the chance to vaccinate their citizens.
The biggest concern at the moment is that an even more infectious mutation of the coronavirus arises, against which vaccines are ineffective. "If we are lucky, it will stay that same because the virus cannot mutate further," Van Egmond said. "If we are unlucky, a new variant will appear against which the vaccines do not work."