COPENHAGEN - The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has forecast that the number of Covid-19 infections in the EU is likely to rise this autumn as some member states have made limited progress with their vaccination campaigns.
Only 61.1 percent of the total population of the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are fully vaccinated, the agency said on Thursday.
Countries with vaccination rates at or below the current EU average that plan to ease coronavirus regulations are likely to see a significant increase in the number of cases, hospital admissions and deaths by the end of November, it said.
"Predictions show that a combination of high vaccination coverage and effective contact reduction is critical to reduce the risk of a high Covid-19 burden to health-care systems this autumn," said ECDC Director Andrea Ammon.
Countries must strive to increase their vaccination rates in all eligible age groups, in order to prevent the more transmissible Delta variant from spreading in the season ahead, she added.
Restrictions could still be needed until the end of November, according to the agency, which noted that only Malta, Portugal and Iceland had fully vaccinated more than 75 percent of their total populations.
In its latest pandemic risk assessment, the ECDC outlined the dangers posed by the spread of the Delta variant, to which more than 99 percent of all newly reported infections are now attributed. The authority also said it expects a higher proportion of infections affecting children in the coming months.