tv Inside Story LINKTV November 8, 2021 5:30am-6:01am PST
>> nine groups have formed an alliance against ethiopia's government. they want to bring down the government either by negotiations or the use of force. the un security council is calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. >> the members of the security council expressed deep concern about the expansion of military clashes in northern ethiopia.
they further call to put an end to hostilities and to negotiate a lasting cease-fire and for the creation of conditions for the start of an inclusive ethiopian national dialogue. >> protests over iraq's parliamentary elections have turned violent. evan stators call october vote a sham. more than 100 people were injured in the clashes. the u.s. house of representatives is expected to vote on the nations infrastructure bill and has delayed president biden's social welfare bill until the end of the month. these are live pictures you are looking at. the $1 trillion infrastructure bill has already been passed in the senate. thousands of climate change activists have marched through central desk low -- central glasgow to pressure leaders at the cop 26 summit.
pfizer's has a new pill it is developing cuts the risk of hospitalizations or death by coronavirus by almost 90%. the company is asking regulators to authorize its use. see you shortly. ♪ ♪ >> europe has once again become the epicenter of the covid pandemic. the who is morning of half a million more deaths by february. the vaccines are readily available, so what has gone wrong, and will europeans have to spend another winter in lockdown? this is "inside story."
♪ hello, and welcome. i'm rob matheson. the warm months of july and august gave much of europe the impression that the worst of the pandemic was over. countries lifted restrictions. people traveled for holidays again, traveled in large numbers, and did not have to wear masks. but infections are now rising to record levels. the world health organization says the region is once again the center of the pandemic. it is urging countries to step up vaccination campaigns. vaccines are readily available, but many refuse to take them. we will bring in our special guests in a moment, but first, this report. reporter: the world health
organization says the wider region is once more at the pandemics epicenter. across 33 countries including parts of central asia, there are 78 million current infections, more than the cumulative total of southeast asia, the east and mediterranean, and all of africa. it is a figure rising by a quarter of a million new infections deadly, with 600,000 deaths every day. >> if we stay on this trajectory, we could see another half a million covid-19 deaths in europe and central asia by the first of february of next year. reporter: why is it happening in a region with generally good access to vaccines? the who points to waning immunity on those vaccinated six months or more ago, and vaccine hesitancy in countries like russia, where misinformation has contributed to more than 1000 virus deaths a day. there is also the relaxation of
public health measures. england, where mandatory restrictions were lifted in july, is now responsible for around one in 10 of all new infections worldwide. efforts to distribute through jabs are being handled by public apathy, yet the government is resisting calls from scientists to reintroduce precautions or risk and even more deadly winter. there is a glimmer of good news. the u.k. has become the first country in the world to license a new treatment for covid-19. the antiviral pill made by merck has been shown to half the chances of dying or being hospitalized for those most at risk of severe symptoms. >> this pill interferes with the virus's location mechanisms, and by interfering with how it reproduces, it makes it make many mistakes, and by making many mistakes, it stops it from
being able to reproduce properly. reporter: butner treatments alone will not be enough to slow the renewed spread of the virus across europe. among countries, some of whom lived until recently it was all over. rob: european centre for disease prevention and control says nearly 76% of people above the age of 18 are fully vaccinated, but this map shows huge differences between western and eastern europe. iceland, ireland, and portugal have immunized more than 90% of adults, just 39% in romania and 26% in bulgaria. some countries have announced new measures. latvia reimposed a lockdown last month. all public and most private gatherings have been banned, and people can only shop for essential goods. estonia has canceled all public events and stop gatherings for nonvaccinated people. those who have been fully
vaccinated must wear a mask indoors. from saturday, people in the netherlands have begun to wear masks in public areas and show vaccination passes to enter museums and gyms. belgium has also reimposed max wearing -- mask wearing and encourage people to work remotely after infections reached her highest level in a year. let's bring in our guest. we have the professor of emerging infectious diseases at london's school of hygiene and tropical medicine. in birmingham, u.k., lawrence young, and infectious disease specialist. and the head of the department of infectious diseases at the university of -- how different is this scenario we are seeing in europe compared to the scenarios we saw in the early days of the pandemic? >> the situation is similar but
also quite different. last year, there was a record upsurge for many, starting in october, at a time where nobody was vaccinated. this time around, many have been vaccinated, not enough. also, we have a high number of infections. the number of deaths are lower than last year, with the same number of infections. the good news is we have vaccines and these vaccines to prevent deaths and severe diseases -- do prevent deaths and severe diseases. they do not prevent as successfully mild infections. you may still get a mild infection, but the message is you are protected against severe disease and death. rob: is this just about low vaccination rates linked to higher levels of infection, or is there a wider question to this? >> i think it is a perfect
storm, a combination of insufficient vaccine up date and the -- uptake and the easing of restrictions. more mixing indoors as it gets colder, and waning immunity to vaccinations, particularly those that were vaccinated more than six months ago. i think these are important, but i think it is a mix and the easing of restriction measures that are contributing alongside the levels of -- low levels of vaccination in certain countries. rob: germany has a high rate of vaccinations at nearly 80%, yet it is entering a fourth wave. i know that poland has a relatively high rate, yet figures are rising there. what is contributing to that? >> i do not think that the vaccination rate in poland is high. it is about 53%.
we can do much better. but still there are many hesitant individuals in the population. i think this is one of the main drivers of this upsurge in cases in poland at the moment. also, school openings. children are back in schools and students are back at the universities. these places are not doing much regarding infection control measures, so people are very close to each other. this is another factor which drives this surge in cases. rob: if the situation continues and the figures continue, what do you think is going to be the impact longer term in poland? >> it depends.
we have already developed some scenarios, but everything depends on which assumptions you make in the beginning. in this worst-case scenario, when the government is doing nothing to stop new cases, we will maybe end up with 35,000 cases reported every day. according to this prognosis, we will face around 40,000 deaths in the end of this fourth wave. rob: let me ask you something mentioned earlier, referring to the fact that the vaccines do seem to be having an impact because overall the number of hospitalizations and
subsequent deaths seems to be falling. is that something that is going to persuade people unwilling, up to this point, about having the vaccine? do you think that is the kind of impact we are seeing, that the vaccines are reducing the number of deaths could persuade people who have been resident? -- rest the tent -- reticent? >> the vaccines are effective in not only preventing deaths, but also hospitalizations. not only thinking about yourself and your family, but also the social responsibility that comes with vaccinations. some of these messages have not been clear enough, but now we have so much real-world evidence about the benefits of vaccination and the fact that there are very few associated side effects. but we need to be getting that story out to as many people as
possible. we are in a very precarious situation, but we can sort with vaccination. if we did not have vaccination, who knows where we would be, but these are effective nations and people should just get jabbed. rob: one of the fundamental problems seems to be a lack of trust amongst a lot of people, in terms of the government, the pharmaceutical companies, and even the who. people do not believe that some of the messaging the who is putting out at times. why do you think that lack of trust is coming in, and how do you it over that question -- how is it that you get over that? >> social media has really been an enemy in this pandemic. words matter and can kill. misinformation and intentional disinformation, conspiracy theories, are harmful. they kill.
we need to be better communicators in the benefit of a vaccine, but also communicating this pandemic. it is an invisible virus, and young people think they are invincible. this is not about a collective societal response to a very tragic pandemic. we have not had such a pandemic for decades. our society is not trained, emotionally not ready for such a tragedy when our daily lives are disrupted. it is a major challenge, and we need to get better in the media, in politics, in you in -- in u.n. organizations and agencies to have an effective message that resonates across all age groups and backgrounds. rob: in poland, is social media
misinformation playing a big role in the way covid is being dealt with there? >> i am sure there is one factor, but i would say it is the litany of drivers of this hesitancy, especially in most communist countries. we do not have the long-lasting tradition of doubt in vaccination. what we do have is the mandatory vaccination regarding children, and we are doing well with the vaccination coverage of 90% to 98% among children. however, when you think about the vaccine, we are in poland,
in the bottom of the list of eu countries with vaccination coverage. about 20%. it depends on the population. to make a long story short, there is no tradition of vaccination among the adult population, but also it is the lack of trust in government and the lack of trust in experts. according to the latest research, they trust more their relatives and friends than experts. it is quite a challenge here to really give information which will be heard. >> why is it that the government seems to be able to introduce a mandatory vaccination for children, yet it seems unwilling
to do that for adults? >> the problem is very complex. there is no tradition of vaccination with adults. there are many anti-vaxxers. according to the polls, these anti-vaxxers are supporters of the ruling party. there are conflicts of interest. maybe the government worries that some hard policies or mandatory policies regarding covid vaccination will be badly received, and it will influence the polls. rob: lawrence, this clearly is
not just a situation in poland. it exists in other countries. russia is one of them. one would have thought that, given the political circumstances, introducing a vaccination across the country would be relatively easy, but i understand it's vaccination rates are low and it is its own vaccine -- and it produces its own vaccine. why is that happening? >> a lot of it comes down the whole of these different countries to trust the government. we are experiencing that, and in the u.k., where there is so much complacency, and that complacency spreads through society in the sense that this pandemic is somebody else's problem, we don't trust the government anymore, we don't believe in the information they are putting out. this was one of the issues in russia and other countries, trusting the government and the vaccination process itself.
there is a lot of concern, misinformation, and mistrust in russia. rob: we heard a moment ago that merck has introduced a pill that gives some form of vaccine. i understand that pfizer is introducing another one. do you think that is going to make a difference in terms of persuading people that a vaccine is able to be taken? is a pill easier to understand than an injection? is it less frightening? will it make a difference? >> these pills are indeed important additional tools. they cannot replace the vaccines. vaccines are meant to prevent cases, so you want to bring down the cases. if you do not prevent, you will have explosive cases.
even if you can trade some of them with a success rate of about 50%, you can still overwhelm hospitals. we embrace every drug treatment. we need to embrace this to help us get out of the pandemic. the strongest tool we have at hand is a high vaccine coverage rating all populations, but particularly amongst older persons. rob: how is peace -- how easy is it going to be to persuade countries to step up their efforts if they have not been able to achieve that in two years, and yet the vaccines are available if they are willing to spend the money? >> they've got to look at what is going on in their own countries and pay attention to the horrific consequences of not getting a vaccine -- giving a
vaccine. if you have something that can prevent your population from getting hospitalized and dying, that needs to be messaged well. the other problem we have that we do need to stress, as long as the virus continues to circulate , it will change and the virus could mutate again. this could cause untold problems, as we are experiencing with the delta variant. it comes back to the discussion we have been having about governments exercising their responsibility to protect their population. we have something that does the heavy lifting, that can protect. if you have a protective measure like this, why would you not want to make sure your population is protected and your hospitals and health infrastructure is protected? rob: at the start of this conversation, you said it is not just the vaccinations, it is the way our society is responding to
it in terms of mask wearing, social distancing. but many people in europe are used having a degree of freedom. it is going to be very difficult in order to be able to pull people back and say in order to fix this, we are going to take away those freedoms you just had and we are going to reimpose lockdowns, reimpose max wearing -- mask wearing. that is a big hurdle, isn't it? >> a big challenge. people are fatigued. we all want to be out of this. we need to be creative in how to reach people who are going to be hard to reach. offer vaccines at concerts, at football games. use every possible idea to increase vaccine uptake. we need to learn how to better message the importance of vaccines. rob: it seems as though, from past discussions we have had,
that one of the most common solutions to this would be to effectively produce a society which is haves and have-nots. if you have the vaccine, you can lead a normal life. if you do not, you cannot do x, y, and z. is that something practical? do you think at the end of the day, governments have to step up and say you get your freedoms if you have the vaccine, you have fewer freedoms if you don't? >> yes, i do support this idea. it really works. when we look at france or italy, at the moment, there vaccination campaigns seem to be not successful anymore, so they introduced covid passports.
immediately, there was a rise in the uptake. i think that depends on the country, on the society, on the population group to which you address your campaigns. you've got to speak a different language to different groups. we have experienced that in poland, such messages should be given to young people in a different way than to the elderly. yes, we are now at a sort of plateau. there is no progress in vaccination at all in poland. people are still hesitant. we've got to use any other tool
which is supposed to work to increase vaccination coverage. rob: one would think that we have gotten to a point after this lengthy and time where people who refuse to take the vaccine for whatever reason, whether it is distrust of the government, of vaccine companies, or any other reasons, are really not going to shift their view unless they get very tangible evidence, and it is kind of overwhelming, and we are not really at that stage. do you think the situation we have been discussing is going to continue for some time before we reach a point where something is going to shift? >> i am afraid you are right, we have plateaued. maybe it was successful in burying it up 5% or 10%, but there will always be anti-vaxxers and that ideology. the conspiracy around it is so strong. it will be hard to break
through. measures like the u.s., france, italy had taken, where you have to have vaccine passports for certain professions or to get into museums, etc., is the way to go. but there is also a danger in this. we are already a divided society. it will even divide it further. he will get more anger, more hatred, more polarization. it is all very turkey, the site -- very tricky, the society we are living in. rob: can a couple sentences, how do you think this will develop over the next six months to a year? >> it is difficult to predict, because we know that unless we do get vaccinations rolled out across a larger version of the population, the virus will continue to cause sickness. the problem we are facing now is not only covid, but the other respiratory infections like flu and the enormous pressure that
is going to put onto the health systems across europe. i think winter is going to be challenging. if we can make it to spring next year, we will be in a stronger position, but what toll is that going to take? rob: thanks to all our guests. annalise, lawrence, and maria. thank you for watching. you can see the program again at any time by visiting al jazeera.com. you can also join the conversation on twitter. the handle is @ajinsidestory. bye for now.