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Scientific article
Open access
English

No time for complacency on COVID-19 in Europe

Published inLancet, vol. 401, no. 10392, p. 1909-1912
Publication date2023-05
Abstract

While the world is transitioning out of the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic,1 new surges of COVID-19 continue to occur across Europe because of persistent viral circulation and the regular emergence of new subvariants of omicron.2 New infections occur even during the summer months, a notable difference with influenza virus or other seasonal respiratory infections.3 The breadth of the most recent COVID-19 waves remains difficult to assess, because of a steep reduction in diagnostic testing across the continent. None of the waves of COVID-19 since the spring of 2022 overwhelmed health-care systems in Europe, or warranted new restrictions from December, 2022. Yet, excess mortality, although not only attributable to COVID-19, has been and remains unacceptably high.4 COVID-19 claimed the lives of 467 921 people in Europe during 2022.5 Hospital admissions of new patients with COVID-19 continue; infections persist in immunocompromised people; and vulnerable individuals with comorbidities remain at high risk of severe COVID-19. Persisting symptoms are also associated with 3–20% of affected people suffering from Long Covid.6, 7 Persisting absenteeism from work linked to COVID-19 and to other circulating respiratory viruses since the lifting of public health measures has had negative effects on European economies.8

These impacts of COVID-19 are likely to continue in the coming years if more efforts are not made to decrease the circulation of SARS-CoV-2 and mitigate its impact on public health. Options are readily available to reduce the burden of SARS-CoV-2 and other endemic respiratory pathogens. We thus question the current high level of political and societal complacency towards COVID-19 in Europe. Much more strategic attention and investments are needed now to more effectively manage COVID-19 and develop greater resilience to future respiratory pathogens.

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Citation (ISO format)
FLAHAULT, Antoine et al. No time for complacency on COVID-19 in Europe. In: Lancet, 2023, vol. 401, n° 10392, p. 1909–1912. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(23)01012-7
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