When it comes to global diseases, international travelers play a huge role both in spreading them and preventing them. And this was quite clear with the COVID-19 pandemic back in 2020. Today, we’ll take a look at new conclusions shared by WHO scientists on COVID vaccines.
Moreover, Dengue fever is causing major concerns in Europe. And thus, spreading and amplifying the outbreak of last year. In this post, we’ll share everything you need to know to avoid getting infected on your next travel.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
Dengue Fever Spreads in Europe
In a previous traveler’s report, we shared the news about Dengue fever causing an epidemiological alert in many areas of Bolivia.
But now, European countries are worried they’ll see an outbreak of dengue fever too. In fact, according to the WHO, half of the global population is now at risk of dengue, estimating 100 million to 400 million infections each year.
It all started with a British woman’s case of Dengue. The 44-year-old woman contracted the virus while visiting the south of France last September. The Rare Imported Pathogens Laboratory (RIPL) in the U.K. tested an urgent sample from her and confirmed she had acute dengue virus infection.
Dr. Owain Donnelly from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London said: “This individual was part of an outbreak of over 30 locally transmitted cases in the south of France in 2022, which highlights the rapidly changing epidemiology of dengue.”
Dengue fever is spread by bites from an infected Aedes mosquito that can mostly be found in:
- South America
- Southeast Asia
- East Africa
However, now there has been an outbreak of Aedes Albopictus, also known as the Asian Tiger mosquito, in southern Europe.
But why did it happen? Well, Donnelly attributes the spread of dengue to:
- Climate change, particularly hotter temperatures and increase of rainfall
- Increasing global trade and tourism.
So, if you’re thinking about traveling abroad, stay alert and follow our Dengue prevention guide for travelers.
The WHO published an Update on COVID Vaccines
The Technical Advisory Group of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations for COVID Vaccines (TAG-CO-VAC) reunited in March. And, last month the WHO published their conclusions.
As of June last year, the TAG-CO-VAC stated that index virus-based vaccines continued to confer high levels of protection against severe disease caused by most COVID variants. However, they also recognized that it was likely that the effectiveness of these vaccines would reduce over time.
Besides, most of these vaccines didn’t offer Omicron protection as their primal variant. Thus, the TAG-CO-VAC recommended updating vaccines to prioritize protecting users against Omicron.
After the TAG-CO-VAC recommendation, several manufacturers developed a COVID vaccine with an altered antigenic composition to focus on Omicron. These new vaccines contained:
- Earlier Omicron descendent lineages (BA.1- and BA.4/5)
- The existing COVID virus index
The organization met again in March 2023 and, after studying the effects of those altered new vaccines, they concluded that:
- Protection from severe disease and symptomatic infection induced by both the traditional index virus-based vaccines and the newly altered ones decline over time.
- Booster doses of the existing vaccines and the new vaccines will give high levels of protection against severe illness and death caused by COVID variants.
- In comparison to index virus-based vaccines, booster vaccines containing BA.1 and BA.4/5 might slightly improve the effectiveness against COVID symptoms.
The TAG-CO-VAC is still reviewing the evidence and will continue to make recommendations on updates to the COVID-19 vaccines.
Traveling can be an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s important to always be mindful of the risks involved. While Dengue and COVID-19 may not feel like significant risks, it’s important to take precautionary measures.
Ultimately, researching health risks associated with your destination can help safeguard both you and your fellow travelers. But most importantly, it can guarantee a smooth trip without interruptions due to sickness.
Need a COVID test before you go on your next adventure? Discover testing locations near you with our international directory.