Steven Van Gucht, head of viral diseases at health science institute Sciensano, says the increase is not unexpected: “We believe this rising trend will speed up in coming days”.
Van Gucht attributes the rise to a series of factors: there’s the colder weather and the recent relaxations. Belgium is not the only country to see a rise. In Lithuania and Bulgaria the hospitals are coming under intense pressure. Romania is ferrying patients abroad. Van Gucht doesn’t believe the situation in Belgium will deteriorate to this extent: “Thanks to our high vaccination rates we hope to keep the situation in hospitals manageable.”
“Up to half the people ending up in hospital are fully vaccinated, but the fully vaccinated group represents a large proportion of the population at large. Vaccines provide up to 90% protection against hospitalisation”.
“We don’t know how long the protection offered by vaccines will last. More and more people are coming down with flu and colds. It’s possible the vaccines are no longer providing as much protection against mild infections.”
Van Gucht says it’s above all people who are not vaccinated who are passing on the virus: “They produce more virus. Vaccinated people too can pass on the virus, but pose less of a threat to their environment.”