Mask relaxation, social distancing, quarantines and second PCR tests. These are some of the conclusions of the first European Union guide on the benefits of vaccination. “Limited evidence indicates that fully vaccinated people, if infected, may be less likely to transmit SARSCoV-2 to their unvaccinated contacts,” states the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which acknowledges that “There remains uncertainty about the duration of protection in such cases, as well as possible protection against emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.”
“The risk of developing severe disease from COVID-19 for a fully vaccinated person is very low in young adults and middle-aged adults without risk factors, and low in older adults or people with underlying risk factors,” states the ECDC . And he adds: “The risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19 for an unvaccinated person who has been in contact with a fully vaccinated person exposed to SARS-CoV-2 infection is very low to low in young adults and adults of middle age with no risk factors for severe disease. COVID-19 and moderate in older adults or people with underlying risk factors (limited evidence available so far). ”
In this sense, “the overall reduction in the risks of severe COVID-19 disease depends on the absorption of the vaccine and vaccination coverage in the general population, and is modulated by several other factors, such as age and underlying conditions, vaccine characteristics, variants, setting. ”
Therefore, given the current risks assessed, “there are specific situations in which the restrictions can be lifted,” says the ECDC for the following assumptions:
When fully vaccinated people meet other fully vaccinated people (very low / low risk), physical distancing and wearing face masks can be relaxed.
When an unvaccinated individual or unvaccinated individuals from the same household or social bubble encounter fully vaccinated individuals, physical distancing and the use of face masks can be relaxed if there are no risk factors for serious disease or less effectiveness of the vaccine in any of those present (eg, immunosuppression or other underlying conditions).
When tracing contacts, vaccinates who have been exposed to a confirmed case should continue to be treated according to existing ECDC guidelines. However, “health authorities may consider conducting a case-by-case risk assessment and subsequently classifying some fully vaccinated contacts as low-risk contacts. Factors to be considered in such assessments include, for example, the local epidemiological situation in terms of circulating variants, the type of vaccine received and the age of contact. The risk of transmission to vulnerable people through contact should also be considered. ”
Requirements for traveler testing and quarantine (if implemented) and periodic workplace testing “may be waived or modified for fully vaccinated individuals as long as there are no variants of immune escape or that it is at a level very low (in the country of origin in the case of travelers, for example) “.
In any case, the ECDC understands that “in the current epidemiological context in the EU, in public spaces and in large gatherings, even during travel, restrictions must be maintained regardless of people’s vaccination status”
“Countries considering relaxing measures for fully vaccinated people should take into account the potential unequal access to vaccines in the population,” states the guide from the EU Center for Diseases, adding: “Examples from countries where vaccination coverage is higher and severe COVID-related outcomes and the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 have declined, such as the UK and Israel, provide an indication of how transmission can be reduced with careful application and the slow lifting of public health prevention measures, while the deployment of vaccination is scaled up as quickly as possible across the EU. ”