Thousands Of Anti-Vax Protesters Marched In Europe Even Though COVID Deaths Are Rising

Vaccines are the best way to prevent COVID-19 deaths, which increased 5% increase in Europe during the week ending Nov. 14.

Posted on November 21, 2021, at 7:19 p.m. ET

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Protesters gather at a demonstration against a health pass and other coronavirus measures in Brussels, Belgium, on Nov. 21, 2021.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in major European cities over the weekend to protest vaccine mandates and other coronavirus restrictions as cases and deaths from the virus rise across the region.

According to the World Health Organization, Europe saw a 5% increase in new COVID-19 deaths during the week ending Nov. 14, while other regions worldwide reported that fatalities were stabilizing or declining. Globally, cases continued to rise 6%, compared to the previous week, with more than 3.3 million new COVID-19 cases reported.

Even against more contagious variants of the coronavirus, vaccines are hugely effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19 and death. The risk of serious side effects is tiny compared to the risk of COVID-19 complications.

Vadim Ghirda / AP

Protesters carry torches in Vienna on Nov. 20, 2021.

In Austria, where officials are imposing a new lockdown starting Monday along with a nationwide vaccine mandate to take effect next year, an estimated 40,000 people, including members of far-right groups, marched through Vienna on Saturday. After dark, protesters threw bottles and fired pyrotechnics at police, who used pepper spray to disperse the crowds, according to the Associated Press.

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Demonstrators light flares during a rally in Vienna on Nov. 20, 2021.

In the Netherlands, riots broke out in multiple cities. On Friday night, 49 people were arrested after a crowd of hundreds torched cars, set off fireworks, and threw rocks at police in Rotterdam in what the Dutch city’s mayor described as an “orgy of violence.” Police responded with water cannons and gunfire, injuring at least four people, officials said.

In Brussels, Belgium, 35,000 gathered on Sunday to protest new rules that make working from home mandatory for four days a week, limit the number of people at gatherings, and require masks for indoor and some outdoor activities.

“We denounce the measures restricting freedom, that haven’t constituted a structural solution for health services,” protest organizers said in a statement, according to Politico.

Hatim Kaghat / Reuters

A fire burns at a protest against the health pass and other coronavirus restrictions in Brussels on Nov. 21, 2021.

At times, demonstrators clashed with police, throwing rocks and smoke bombs as law enforcement fired water and tear gas at the crowd.

Demonstrations also took place in Italy, Switzerland, Croatia, and Northern Ireland.

/ AP

People march down a street during a protest against vaccination and coronavirus measures in Zagreb, Croatia, on Nov. 20, 2021.