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Fourth wave on the way, Brussels and the unvaccinated to bear the brunt

Belgium’s national crisis centre has warned of a new fourth wave of coronavirus that will strike this autumn as we extend our contacts.  It warns that the wave could hit Brussels and the non-vaccinated in a disproportionate measure.

Models are calculated per area and take account of vaccination levels and people’s risk behaviour i.e. how many risky contacts people entertain: contact with others at a distance below 1.5m without facial covering.

Virologist Steven Van Gucht says if the number of risky contacts people have increases by 50% between August and September then hospital admissions can rise to 400 a day with peaks of over 1,000 Covid patients in critical care.

The wave will probably hit Brussels with disproportionate vehemence given the vaccination levels that are much lower than in the rest of the country. The non-vaccinated in Flanders too are at risk.  Steven Van Gucht: “The virus will fill the holes in our vaccination blanket.  If we open up too much, we will see a high wave from October onwards.”

The virologist believes in improvement during the winter and the ability of leaving the pandemic behind us.

Dirk Ramaekers of the vaccination taskforce notes that in Belgium as a whole the 70% vaccination level has been reached. The delta variant means that this original goal is insufficient. Ramaekers voices concern with regard to Brussels.  The Brussels population is young and few young people are vaccinated.  A quarter of 12-to-17-year-olds have received a first shot.  In Flanders the figure is 78%.  In Wallonia it’s 57%.

Belgium’s most vulnerable with a weakened immune system will receive a third dose of the vaccine soon. The campaign starts in the second week of September.  Up to 400,000 people are involved. Other vulnerable groups may be tackled later.

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