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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Coronavirus in Poland. What about Christmas and the obligation to vaccinate? Adam Niedzielski, the Minister of Health, answers

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Health Minister Adam Niedzielski admitted that the ministry has two scenarios for the development of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As he said, the first one, at the peak of the incidence, assumes from 25 to 30 thousand infections a day, and the second – from 35 to 40 thousand infections. He noted that with the sustained second variant, additional restrictions may arise. The head of the ministry of health assessed that it was unlikely that Christmas would be disrupted by COVID-19 and additional restrictions.

Minister Adam Niedzielski was asked about the estimated critical level of the fourth wave of the pandemic. – The critical level, in my opinion, is 35-40 thousand infections a day, lasting for some time. This is the level when additional instruments need to be added, then there may be e.g. restrictions or certain forms of vaccination compulsion for selected, threatened groups. But for the time being we don’t see any reasons to do so, he said.


“All lockdowns and restrictions so far have been aimed at limiting transmission of the virus, but it has also been a form of defense of the health system, mainly of hospitality, which is under the greatest pressure,” he said. He added that “in the current wave, we see fundamental differences from the previous wave in terms of the increase in the number of infections, its rate and hospitalization.”

– It seems that all objective conditions allow a slightly bolder and more liberal approach to epidemic management – he stressed.

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When asked when the fourth wave peak could be expected, the head of the health ministry admitted that two scenarios were taken into account. – One referring to the analogy of the second wave and the apogee in two weeks. The second scenario postpones the peak a bit in time to the first half of December. The peak in the first scenario is to be 25,000-30,000 infections, and in the second variant, 35-40,000 infections. We are implementing the expansion of the infrastructure in accordance with the pessimistic scenario, although it is less realistic – he added.

Minister of health on places in hospitals

Niedzielski admitted that “by the end of November we will have 26,000 places for COVID-19 patients in hospitals”. – However, around December 20, we are planning about 33,000 covid beds. We have a few more temporary hospitals to run if needed. We also create covid places in non-covid hospitals – he said.

– The vacant bed buffer is to be around 30 percent – no more. We must have resources to cure other diseases that are not and will not disappear after all. In previous waves, these buffers were in the order of 50 percent, which affected the treatment of the remaining non-covid patients, he explained.

What about Christmas?

The minister was also asked if Poles can plan Christmas without worrying about sanitary restrictions. – The pandemic has surprised us many times. According to all forecasts, it is unlikely that we will have Christmas disrupted by a wave of covid, he replied.

Niedzielski on the obligation to vaccinate: coercive measures may discourage people

When asked about the issue of herd immunity acquired as a result of vaccinations, the head of the Ministry of Health noted that “vaccination coverage is one parameter”. – The second very important parameter is the incidence of COVID-19. Vaccinations, nationwide, if we look at adults, it is 65 percent. Taking into account people who have had the disease, we can say that the immunity is at the level of about 75 percent – he added.

Niedzielski pointed out that despite the recommendations of experts, it was not decided to oblige vaccinations in some professional groups, replied that “the point of view of experts in a narrow field of science, including medicine, has the disadvantage that it does not take into account the realities of social and social life in any way. economic “. – This is valuable advice, but making decisions at the government level cannot take into account the point of view of one group, one group of experts – he stressed.

– You have to be aware that in our country, certain coercive measures are not only received badly, but can act counter-effectively and discourage people, and trigger an even more negative or even aggressive attitude. The anti-vaccination movement in Poland – I regret to say it – is relatively strong and, in a sense, professionalized. There are incidents that are aggressive in nature. Our goal now is not to provoke people to take to the streets and I am talking about larger groups than in Austria, France or Germany – he said.

As he said, “when making decisions, the government looks at its consequences – benefits and costs, including social costs.” – You have to make decisions that are pragmatic and rational. You have to weigh the risks. We are trying to apply a policy that verifies whether by managing the infrastructure providing treatment and support for patients and having a fairly high – although it could always be higher – level of immunization and immunity in the population, we are able to go through this wave – he said.

When asked whether the employer should be able to verify vaccinations among employees, Niedzielski assessed that “this is a good direction”. – Restrictions in the form of narrowing or limiting the conduct of business activity is not a good direction, because it is taking the country’s development perspective. On the other hand, changes in the organization of work, using information about who is vaccinated and who is not, are an effective direction. The tools are always used appropriately to the situation in which we find ourselves. We need to give employers a tool to manage the possible broadcast in their own company. We cannot allow companies to close, he said.

What about vaccinating children?

Niedzielski recalled in an interview that the government is waiting for the decisions of the European Medicines Agency and the European Commission on the vaccination of younger children and announced that as soon as they are in place, the ministry will issue a communiqué allowing vaccination in the 5-11-year-old group. This could happen, he said, even before the end of November.

The minister said that Poland had declared its intention to purchase over 300,000 doses of the anti-COIVD-19 molnupiravir drug under EU tenders and informed that it might be available to Polish patients in December.

Main photo source: PAP / Wojtek Jargiło

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