“Vaccines don’t work as we thought, pandemic can last 15 years”

L’Iceland is one of the countries in the world least affected by the pandemic of Covid-19, thanks to the natural conformation of the territory: it is an island very far from other inhabited areas, with just 350 thousand inhabitants and with a very efficient health system that has allowed the implementation of sweep tests to identify positive cases and isolate outbreaks in the bud. So in the whole country since the beginning of the pandemic we have only had 7,801 positive cases e 30 dead, with one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.

The arrival of the vaccine was then welcomed with great hope in the country that has always stood out for its strong trust in science, with which it has constant relations due to the need to take measures to prevent the natural risks to which the island is exposed (earthquakes, eruptions volcanoes, floods and meteorological storms). In a short time, therefore, all vaccinable Icelanders have been vaccinated: as of today the 78,48% of the population received the first dose, the 74,33% the second. Whereas vaccinations have not been authorized for children and teens up to 16 years (which in Iceland are about 75,000), the all Icelanders over 16 have received the Covid vaccine.

Confident that the problem has been solved, the authorities the June 26 they lifted all anti-Covid restrictions, reopened all the premises and declared the end of the emergency.

Now, however, in a few days the situation has worsened. A new wave which in a few days has already revealed itself the most intense since the beginning of the pandemic. In the last week in Iceland they have been there 869 new cases Covid-19, a peak that had never before been reached in the country. All new cases were detected among the vaccinated, and the first patients with breathing difficulties arrive in hospitals. They too all vaccinated. Ten positive people have also already needed hospitalization.

The country’s chief epidemiologist, Thorolfur Gudnason, presented to the government a memorandum on the new restrictions which the political authorities of Iceland then adopted starting from Monday 26 July. Gudnason said that “vaccinations are not proving as effective as the experts indicated“, Providing the data of the”exponential growth of infections”Which went from 213 last week to 869 this week. “Most of them were full course vaccinated“, Added the leader of the fight against the Icelandic Covid. “Despite vaccinations, we may see much higher infection rates and severe forms of the disease with increased hospital admissions” he added Gudnason explaining that the Delta variant brought the country into a “new phase, in which we will have to use the old measures that already worked a year ago. The emergence of new variants risks compromising the efficacy of vaccines and therefore we must return to using masks, spacing and closures“.

The government, therefore, has again imposed the curfew: bars, pubs and restaurants must close at 11.00 pm, the obligation to spacing one meter between people not living together is back, public gatherings are banned, masks are mandatory again within the activities and also vaccinated tourists who want to travel in Iceland they will have to undergo a swab and will only be able to enter if the result is negative. “We are seeing that even vaccinated people get infected and get sick, so we are forced to abolish the rule that allowed those who received the vaccine to enter freely without testing”Explained the Icelandic authorities.

Meanwhile, the epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason, answering questions from journalists met in a special press conference called to illustrate the new measures and the new situation, said that “no one can know for sure what the future will be, it may even be that we will be forced to have restrictions for the next five, ten or fifteen years. There is no possibility of making predictions. I understand that people complain about this and would like certainties, but we do not have any and we cannot delude them. It is not possible to predict what happens with the virus, and there is always something new that changes what we thought a few months ago. We can certainly say that the epidemic will not end in Iceland until it ends around the world. We certainly know today that vaccine protection is lower than we previously knew. We thought they were at least 90% effective, but now we know that maybe they are around 60% effective. We know about vaccines that they are all more or less similar, even if we have less information about Janssen and Moderna’s than Pfizer, perhaps because they are less used and therefore there is less research.“.

Thorolfur Gudnason

Thorolfur Gudnason

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