STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AFP) — The EU’s health and medicine agencies said Monday they were recommending a second booster shot of a Covid vaccine for people over 60 years old, as infections rise again.
“With cases and hospitalisations rising again as we enter the summer period, I urge everybody to get vaccinated and boosted as quickly as possible,” Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety said.
“There is no time to lose,” she added in a statement issued by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency.
The agencies had already recommended a second booster, or a fourth dose, for people over the age of 80, since April.
“I call on Member States to roll-out second boosters for everyone over the age of 60 as well as all vulnerable persons immediately,” Kyriakides added.
ECDC director Andrea Ammon said there was “an increasing trend in hospital and ICU admissions and occupancy in several countries”, driven mainly by the Omicron subvariant BA.5 of the coronavirus.
“This signals the start of a new, widespread Covid-19 wave across the European Union. There are still too many individuals at risk of severe Covid-19 infection whom we need to protect as soon as possible,” Ammon added.
However, the agencies also said at the moment there was no need to give out a second booster “to people below 60 years of age who are not at higher risk severe disease,” or those working in healthcare or in care homes.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, Covid cases have been rising sharply since the end of May around most of Europe.
The number of new daily cases in the WHO’s European region — which comprises 53 countries and regions including several in Central Asia — exceeded 675,000 Friday.
At the end of June, the WHO warned Europe was expected to see “high levels” of Covid-19 this summer, owing to the milder but more contagious subvariant BA.5, across the continent.
The summer periods of 2020 and 2021 had been marked by a relative respite in Europe, with infections so far peaking between autumn and spring.
Almost all European countries show a clear increase in cases.
According to WHO Europe, Cyprus is seeing the highest incidence with France second, followed by Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Austria.
© Agence France-Presse