Now it’s time for On Point, where we speak to experts to delve deeper into the biggest news stories in the spotlight right now.
Numerous European countries are reporting hospitals at breaking point due to the massive resurgence of COVID-19 on the continent.
Officials in those nations say the situation is so dire that they are reinforcing strict measures, including nationwide lockdowns and banning unvaccinated people from public places.
Despite enormous protests, Austria has gone into a nationwide lockdown, with mandatory vaccinations to be enforced from February 2022.
The crisis is just as acute in Germany with the country’s health minister warning that “by the end of this winter, pretty much everyone in Germanywill have been vaccinated, recovered or died”.
The World Health Organization has echoed that, saying several hundred thousand people are projected to die from COVID-19 in Europe between now and spring next year.
For more, we are joined by Ben Cowling, Chair Professor of Epidemiology at The University of Hong Kong. Good Morning Professor.
Firstly, what are the variables causing this wave in Europe? And what do you make of the WHO’s projection about the potential number of COVID-19 deaths there?
On Austria’s controversial move. Many Austrians have been taking to the streets, saying it’s a shocking overreach by the government. Where do you stand on their view that - in some respects - this is no longer about public health, but rather, controlling populations?
We just mentioned that Germany’s health minister said recently - and just to quote him again - “by the end of this winter, pretty much everyone in Germanywill have been vaccinated, recovered or died.” Should public officials choose their words more carefully or is this kind of stark language warranted?
Regardless, it seems other countries in Europe will follow Austria’s lead and go into full lockdowns to try and stem the spread. Does the data show strict, nationwide lockdowns are effective?
Professor Cowling, as always, we are grateful for your insights and thank you for joining us.