Lockdown fatigue across Europe is highly understandable but coronavirus restrictions may well linger into next year, a public health expert told Euronews, urging authorities to beef up their vaccination campaigns.
"We certainly need to realise and prepare for the fact that it's not going to be over by summer (…) And it's probably not going to be over by the end of the year," said Professor Jeffrey Lazarus, head of the health systems team at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).
Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization Regional Director for Europe, already warned in February that the pandemic might not be over until early 2022.
Anti-lockdown protests erupted across Europe this weekend as Poland and France began imposing new partial lockdowns and other EU member states considered similar moves to curb soaring COVID-19 cases. Some of the protesters claimed they were living under a "health dictatorship".
Lazarus said he could "very much understand" people's frustration, and that the protests were "really just the tip of the iceberg."
"Most of them aren't out on the streets and aren't really voicing their frustration. So I think we have to really take these demonstrations seriously to understand what's at the heart of it and how do we address it," he said.
People have become "complacent" about COVID-19 and governments need to better explain that they're curbing travel and freedoms to protect their health care systems, he said.
"We are seeing increases in cases, and that's a very dangerous situation with regards to the spread of variants that are more contagious, more virulent, much more serious," he said.
"At the heart of it is vaccinating faster. We need to vaccinate faster."
Watch the interview in the video player above.