Government fails to convey vaccine benefits - virologist
By Michelle Gantenbein and Heledd Pritchard
Vaccination offers a high degree of protection against the coronavirus, a virologist has said, a message that Luxembourg politicians are failing to get across just as the number of cases is rapidly on the rise again.
Last week, the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 jumped by 31% and the average age of those contracting the disease fell slightly to 33 years old, figures from the health ministry showed on Wednesday.
Almost half of the 39 Covid patients in hospital were fully vaccinated, the ministry said. And of the 10 people in intensive care, six had received at least one shot. But even if some vaccinated patients end up in hospital, the risk of that is far higher for unvaccinated people, Claude Muller said.
That is because most people are now vaccinated and the number of unvaccinated people in hospital is therefore disproportionally high.
"The risk of ending up in hospital for the unvaccinated is 10.5 times higher than for vaccinated people,” Muller said in an interview. “It's phenomenal, but the government doesn't convey that message.”
Explaining the numbers was best left to him and his colleagues "instead of leaving it to the prime minister - who operates with numbers he doesn’t understand – and to the health minister,” said Muller, who is a professor.
“Unvaccinated people are given the impression that they can sit back and relax because they have the same rights as vaccinated people,” Muller said.
“The government is sending the message that not getting vaccinated is also ok ... the only reason for the current wave and the associated restrictions and costs are the unvaccinated,” he said in the interview.
Over the past 24 hours, 556 people tested positive for the disease, figures from the health ministry showed on Wednesday. It was the highest daily increase since December. The latest numbers did not say how many of the 48 people in hospital - 11 of whom are in intensive care - had been vaccinated.
Muller said the government should also be open about the vaccination rate among nurses which “seems to be the best kept secret in this country”.
There was no need to tighten restrictions further, as long as the number of people in intensive care did not increase, Muller said.
Healthcare staff will hold a one-minute silence in front of hospitals across the country as a reminder of their hard work now that the country finds itself in the middle of a fourth wave of infections.
Transmission among the vaccinated is 10 or 20 times lower, Muller said, referring to a German study which shows that the probability of contracting the disease is just 0.3% among those who have had the jab.