Infectious diseases expert suggests Easter as a realistic target for relaxation of corona measures

With many of us facing a festive season devoid of the usual flood of visits to or from family and friends the question that is often posed is when will the figures be low enough again to allow for a relaxation of the measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. The infectious diseases expert Erika Vlieghe told the financial daily ‘De Tijd’ that the half term school holidays (from 15 to 21 February) will be too early. Professor Vlieghe suggests that Easter (4 April 2021) is a more realistic target date for a relaxation of the restrictive measures that have been in force to varying degrees since March of this year. 

"It seems to be the done thing to say that we will just throw everything open once we have vaccinated the vulnerable groups. But it is not as simple as that. Once we have vaccinated care home residents and emergency service workers (and carers), we will be occupied with the whole group of over 65’s until long after March. Not only very old people are lying in hospital. There are also people in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. And then on top of this there are younger people with underlying conditions”.  

"For the sake of convivence we are assuming that the vaccine is as good as the studies suggest. I have every confidence that this is the case, but we don’t know how effective the vaccine is in the longer term. We also need to consider that it works less effectively amount a considerable group of people. What about the very old or people with immunity problems?”, Professor Vlieghe said.

But does this mean we will have to wait until everyone has been vaccinated before the measures to curb the spread of the virus can be significantly relaxed?

“No, this will always be done according to the figures. If you ask me whether this will happen at half term (15 to 21 February), then I think that this would be too early. Easter would seem more realistic”.


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