Europe is facing a potentially devastating winter, which could lead half a million people to die from Covid-19, warned the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday (4), when it issued a warning about an increase in cases and lamented the failures of vaccination in certain areas of the continent.
Much of Europe is battling spikes in infections, with Germany reporting on Thursday its highest number of new cases daily since the start of the pandemic.
In a sad new warning, WHO regional director Hans Kluge said the rate of transmission across the region was of “great concern”.
“We are, once again, at the epicenter,” Kluge said in a statement.
“According to a reliable projection, if we maintain this trajectory, we could see another half a million deaths due to Covid-19 in Europe and Central Asia by February 1 of next year,” he warned, adding that 43 of his 53 countries. can also face some degree of overcrowding in hospitals.
Large areas of the continent are struggling to contain the Delta variant outbreak, which has complicated the relaxation of restrictions in many countries.
Eastern Europe is particularly hard hit; cases are at record levels in Russia and now Germany, while Ukraine’s capital Kiev introduced new restrictions on Monday.
Many experts have expressed concern that further increases in infections, along with seasonal winter colds, could put healthcare professionals under uncontrollable pressure over Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
In its latest weekly update, the WHO said Europe recorded a 6% increase in cases in the previous week. This was the biggest high of any global region, which recorded “steady declines or trends”.
“We are at another critical point in the resurgence of the pandemic,” said Kluge. He blamed two factors for the new wave; the relaxation of restrictive measures and the lack of vaccination coverage in the Balkans and the east of the continent.
“Hospitalization rates in countries with low vaccine acceptance are markedly higher and increase faster than in those with higher uptake,” he said.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned on Wednesday that tougher measures are needed for those who refuse to be vaccinated.
Spahn also told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that his vaccination certificate was requested in Rome during the G20 more often in one day than in Germany in four weeks.
He was responding to a dramatic increase in infections in the country; 33,949 new cases were registered on Thursday, breaking the previous record set in December 2020. Hospitalizations and deaths remain well below the pre-vaccination peak.
Spahn said Germany is facing a “massive” pandemic of unvaccinated people, adding: “The truth is that there would be far fewer patients with Covid-19 in the [unidade de terapia intensiva] if everyone who could received the vaccination”.
The UK has also faced a slew of new infections since late summer, but has resisted the implementation of measures such as the application of masks or vaccine passes, which have become commonplace across Europe.
The world has passed the mark of 5 million deaths from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic on Monday – a mark that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called “a new painful threshold”.
(Translated text. Read the original in English here).
Reference: CNN Brasil