The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have issued a joint statement strongly encouraging those who are eligible for vaccination, but who have not yet been vaccinated, to apply for vaccination.
The statement comes with concern over the highly transmissible Delta variant and misleading reporting raising concern over the effectiveness of vaccines: “Full vaccination with any of the EU/EEA-approved vaccines offers a high level of protection against severe disease and death caused by SARS-CoV-2, including variants, such as Delta. The highest level of protection is achieved after enough time (seven to fourteen days) has passed from the day of the last vaccine dose.
“Vaccination is also important for protecting those at highest risk of severe disease and hospitalisation, reducing the spread of the virus, and preventing the emergence of new variants of concern.”
Mike Catchpole, ECDC’s Chief Scientist said: “While the available vaccines are highly effective in protecting people against severe COVID-19, until higher proportions of the population are immunised, the risk is not beyond us. We are now witnessing an increasing number of COVID-19 cases across the EU/EEA and vaccines remain the best available option to avoid an increase in severe disease and death.”
Reducing the interval between doses
As vaccination campaigns gather pace across the EU/EEA, it may be advisable in some cases to consider reducing the interval between first and second doses, within the authorised limits, particularly for people at risk of severe COVID-19 who have not completed the recommended vaccine schedule.
No vaccine is 100% effective
Although the effectiveness of all COVID-19 vaccines authorised in the EU/EEA is very high, no vaccine is 100% effective. This means that a limited number of SARS-CoV-2 infections among persons that have completed the recommended vaccination schedule (i.e. ‘breakthrough infections’) are expected. However, when infections do occur, vaccines can prevent severe disease to a large extent, and greatly reduce the number of people in hospital due to COVID-19.
Fergus Sweeney, EMA’s Head of Clinical Studies and Manufacturing said: ‘'These COVID-19 vaccines are very effective. However, as long as the virus continues to circulate, we will continue to see breakthrough infections in vaccinated people.
“This does not mean that the vaccines are not working. Vaccinated people are far better protected against severe COVID-19 than unvaccinated people, and we should all endeavour to be fully vaccinated at the earliest opportunity.”
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