RIGA - Covid-19 is spreading in Latvia so rapidly that even a significant acceleration of vaccination would not be enough to contain the spread, which is why it is now necessary to impose restrictions both on unvaccinated and vaccinated people to keep infections from surging, Uga Dumpis, an infectious disease specialist at Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital and University of Latvia professor, told journalists Wednesday.
"I had hoped that Latvia will be able to avoid greater Covid-19 disasters, and for more than half a year we managed to avoid them, but at the very end of this run we have made serious mistakes. Many scientists believe that the Delta variant is the pandemic's last big manifestation and that once this Delta wave is over, Covid-19 will not be causing problems of this scale anymore," the expert said.
Noting the success of countries like Denmark, which have already lifted most their restrictions thanks to a large vaccinated population, Dumpis said that to fight Delta successfully, at least 80 percent of the population has to be inoculated against the virus. Moreover, the percentage of vaccinated people has to be even higher in at-risk groups like seniors, chronically ill people and patients with suppressed immune systems.
"Sadly, we have not been doing particularly well in terms of vaccination and we have very little time to speed up the vaccination pace. But even if all the unvaccinated rushed to get the shots and the infection rate fell to zero, we would still be faced with an abnormal situation in hospitals, because the interval between becoming ill and ending up in hospital is two to three weeks," the expert said, adding that it would not be enough just to speed up vaccination and that in-person contacts must be reduced at least by half.
Since Dumpis believe that imposing restrictions only on the unvaccinated would be nearly impossible because of compliance and control issues, he suggests introducing the same restrictions both on the unvaccinated and vaccinated people. If the measure worked and the curve of infections was broken or at least straightened, restrictions on the vaccinated could be lifted sooner.
In Dumpis' opinion, to reduce the infection risks, authorities should consider restrictions on people's movement and gatherings, even in the so-called "green areas" that are designated only for people with Covid-19 certificates.