“The epidemiological situation in Europe is very worrisome as we move into winter, with increasing rates of infection, hospitalisation and we can also see an increase in fatalities,” said EMA Head of Clinical Studies, Fergus Sweeney.

Speaking at the agency's regular press conference, at a time when countries such as Germany and Belgium are seeing huge increases in the number of Covid-19 infections, Fergus Sweeney stressed that it is “very important that everyone is vaccinated or complete their vaccination dose if have already had a first dose, but not a second dose”.

“It's really important that we're all vaccinated because we're not all protected until everyone is protected,” insisted the European regulator's expert.

When asked about other measures to take this winter, when highly contagious strains such as Delta circulate at high levels and low temperatures favour the spread of this type of virus, Fergus Sweeney noted that “national governments are already taking steps to introduce or reintroduce aspects such as the use of a face mask and the imposition of social distance”.

Furthermore, “we need to follow all these precautions very carefully when washing our hands so that we protect ourselves and others,” he concluded.

According to the EMA specialist, this is already the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Data from another European agency, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), reveal that, so far, 75.4% of the adult population in the EU is fully vaccinated, while 80.6% took only the first dose.

This equates to 275 million people with the complete vaccination schedule, according to the ECDC website on vaccination in the EU, which is based on data from Member States.

By country, there are large discrepancies in vaccination rates, between 26.4% of total vaccination in Bulgaria and 92.3% in Ireland.