Breakthrough cases (covid infection among those fully vaccinated) have begun to account for a sizeable chunk, at least 40 percent, of Kerala's daily Covid count. Meanwhile, despite widespread vaccination, Covid-19 cases have risen dramatically across Europe, with nearly two million new cases reported in the last week, the most in a single week on the continent since the pandemic began.

The unprecedented outbreak has compelled governments to reintroduce lockdown measures in order to prevent the spread of infection.

India must be prepared

The increasing number of breakthrough cases in Kerala has raised the alarm in India. The authorities should be concerned because the first covid cases in India were recorded in Kerala. Now, the number of breakthrough cases are also rising in the state, indicating the need for booster shots.

Although the number of corona cases in Kerala has lowered, the state still has the highest number of cases in the country. For the past week, Kerala has seen an average of 6,600 new cases per day. 

It is worrisome that approximately 40% of the total cases are of breakthrough infection, despite the fact that 95 percent of the state's population has received a single dose of the vaccine and 60 percent has received both.

A dramatic case increase in Europe

According to the World Health Organization, Covid infections in Europe increased by 7% and deaths by 10% in the last week, making it the only region in the world where cases and deaths are growing steadily.

The WHO estimated that nearly two-thirds of new infections, approximately 1.9 million, were reported in Europe. Coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the continent, with several countries experiencing fourth or fifth waves.

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Germany, where 67.2 percent of the population is vaccinated, reported over 50,000 cases on Thursday (November 11), the most since the pandemic began. The United Kingdom, one of Europe's worst-affected countries in terms of Covid fatalities, has also reported over 35,000 cases this week.

"Over the month of October, there has been a more than 55 percent increase in cases in Europe, where there is ample supply of vaccines and tools," said World Health Organization (WHO) technical lead Maria Van Kerkove.

Low vaccination rate to be blamed

According to the WHO, the resurgence is due to inequitable vaccine coverage and the premature relaxation of public safety measures.

According to data, vaccination rates in Eastern Europe are among the lowest in the region. Ukraine, for example, is lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of vaccination, with only 26% of the country's 41 million people receiving at least one vaccine dose.

Last week, Europe saw a 6% increase in new infections compared to the previous week, with a corresponding 12% increase in deaths. According to the WHO, Europe is at a "critical point" and may see an increase in cases as a result of "uneven vaccine coverage" and "premature relaxation of restrictions."

The link between Europe Covid surge and Kerala cases

The upsurge of Covid-19 infections in European countries, particularly among fully vaccinated people, is concerning for a state like Kerala, where breakthrough infections are increasing by the day, according to a member of the state's expert panel.

"It is worrying for us because Kerala is more epidemiologically similar to European countries than other Indian states," said Dr Anish TS, a member of the expert committee advising the Kerala government on Covid-19. 

"What's going on there could have a similar impact here. Why cases are increasing in Europe is a critical question. Is it because the vaccines' effects are fading? Alternatively, because it is winter there right now, there will be more closed interactions. It could be due to such social factors, but we don't know what they are. As a result, it's certainly concerning for us."

But, the most recent seroprevalence survey in Kerala, which found antibodies in 82% of the population, gives hope. It's clear that we can't afford to lower our guard right now." "However, we hope to tide over any probable wave," Dr TS adds.

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