Lenert to brief on corona as vaccinations slow
(The first paragraph of this story was corrected to say that corona killed more than one per thousand residents in Luxembourg, not 1%)
Health minister Paulette Lenert is set to give an update on the pandemic on Wednesday morning as Luxembourg faces decreasing numbers of volunteers taking a shot against the disease that has now killed 825 people in the country - more than one per thousand residents.
Similar press conferences in the past have detailed figures on vaccinations, infections and hospitalisations, and drew comparisons with neighbouring countries. Lenert will review "various aspects" of the pandemic, a health ministry spokesperson said in an email.
The Grand Duchy's vaccination pace has slowed from its peak just a few months ago and most injections are now handed to people receiving their second shot to fully inoculate them. Currently, some 3,000 vaccines are given out on weekdays, less than half the 7,000 or more during the peak of the campaign.
Of the 2,800 doses handed out on Monday, close to 2,400 were second doses.
In a bid to further spread the vaccinations, general practitioners as of last week can also administer the vaccine, whilst the vaccination centres across the country are being increasingly put on hold due to slowing demand.
Luxembourg has now fully vaccinated more than 53% of its population, according to the Our World in Data website affiliated with the University of Oxford. A total of 63% of the population has received at least one dose. Among the adult population, 68% are fully vaccinated, and 72% have received one dose, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
According to some estimates, reaching herd immunity - which would eliminate the virus from society - could prove to be difficult due to the more transmissible Delta variant, according to researchers in Luxembourg, the UK and the US.
Markus Ollert, who heads the immunity department at the Luxembourg Institute of Health, told the Luxembourg Times last week that around 80% of the population would need to be fully vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
Earlier estimates had predicted herd immunity could be reached with 70% of the population vaccinated, yet Andrew Pollard of the Oxford vaccine group dismissed the concept of herd immunity as "mythical" this week, according to UK press reports.
Researchers in the US at Infectious Diseases Society of America have estimated that between 80-90% of the population would need to be fully vaccinated, as the rate could fluctuate depending on factors such as the season of the year, previous infections and social behaviour.
Luxembourg, like many other European countries, is vaccinating teenagers aged 12 and above to increase immunity, in particular before schools re-open in September.
The country has now administered close to 736,000 doses in a population of around 630,000 people, with 371,600 fully vaccinated, according to health ministry data.
Luxembourg is ahead of Germany, France and the US in doses administered per 100 people, but behind Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Denmark and the UK.
Currently, 21 people are hospitalised with the virus in Luxembourg, seven of whom are in intensive care. To date, 825 people have died with the virus in the country, meaning that more than 1 in 1,000 people has died as a consequence of the pandemic.
Recent data shows that 83% of those infected are unvaccinated. While the vaccines in use in the EU and elsewhere might be slightly less effective in preventing infection with the Delta variant than previous variants and allowing for so-called breakthrough infections, they still offer very strong protection against hospitalisations, severe disease and death, research shows.
Luxembourg loosened its restrictions in mid June, and while infections have at times gone up again, the surge in hospitalisations and deaths was mild in comparison with the number of infections.