WHO fears 700,000 more deaths in Europe by spring

In recent weeks, Europe has once again become the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic, to such an extent that governments are considering returning to containment measures, rejected by the populations as the Christmas holidays approach. In the European Union, 67.7% of the population has received two doses of the vaccine, but the differences are staggering between countries. Thus, only 24.2% of Bulgarians are vaccinated against 86.7% of Portuguese.

In a shocking phrase, German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned that “Almost everyone will be vaccinated, cured or dead”, from here “Probably the end of winter”, due to the spread of the Delta variant which is causing a new outbreak of cases in the country. The American authorities have also advised their nationals to avoid traveling to Germany and Denmark, also hit hard by the new wave of the pandemic.

  • WHO warns Europe

The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern on Tuesday about the“Hold” of the Covid-19 epidemic in Europe, which could lead to 700,000 additional deaths on the continent, bringing the total number of deaths to 2.2 million by the spring. More than 1.5 million people have already died from Covid-19 in the region.

“The Europe region remains in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last week, reported deaths from Covid-19 rose to nearly 4,200 per day, doubling from the 2,100 daily deaths recorded at the end of September ”, underlined the organization in a communicated. Currently, more than 1.5 million people have died from Covid-19 in the region. “Hospital beds can be expected to be under high or extreme pressure in 25 countries and high or extreme pressure in intensive care units in 49 out of 53 countries by 1is mars 2022. »

For the WHO, the increase in cases is explained by the combination of the prevalence of the highly contagious Delta variant, insufficient vaccination coverage and the relaxation of anti-Covid-19 measures.

“The situation related to Covid-19 across Europe and Central Asia is very serious. We are facing a winter full of challenges ”, said WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, calling for an approach “Vaccine plus”, combining vaccination, wearing a mask, hygiene measures and sanitary distance.

According to the WHO, wearing a mask reduces the incidence of the disease by 53%. A generalization of its use up to 95% could prevent more than 160,000 deaths by the 1is March. Besides, “It appears more and more evident that the protection induced by vaccination against infections and mild forms is declining”, noted the WHO. The institution therefore recommends a booster for the most vulnerable, including the immunocompromised.

  • AstraZeneca vaccine dismissed from UK boosters

The boss of AstraZeneca defended, Tuesday, the vaccine against the Covid-19 of the British pharmaceutical giant, which was not retained for the booster doses in the United Kingdom, on the sidelines of the inauguration of a center of research in Cambridge.

Pascal Soriot, interviewed on the BBC, also said that the Swedish-British group still hoped to obtain approval for its vaccine in the United States.

Asked about the choice of the British government to give priority to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which use messenger RNA technology, unlike that of AstraZeneca, Mr. Soriot defended the effectiveness of his group’s serum. “This vaccine has been shown to stimulate T lymphocytes better”, essential for immunity, “Particularly in the elderly”, he assured.

The latest UK government data shows 886 new hospital admissions each day for more than 44,000 new positive cases of Covid-19. The United Kingdom is one of the European countries with the most deaths linked to the pandemic (more than 144,400) against 99,437 in Germany and nearly 121,000 in France.

  • Warning for American travelers

US authorities on Monday advised their nationals to avoid traveling to Germany and at Denmark : The soaring incidence in these two countries has led the State Department to advise Americans not to travel to these two countries. The latter are now at the fourth level of American recommendations and join a list of nearly 75 destinations “to avoid” including Austria, Great Britain, Belgium, Greece, Norway, Switzerland, Romania, Ireland and the Czech Republic.

France, where the “fifth wave” is known by the authorities’ own admission a “meteoric” rise, is currently classified by the United States at third tier of destinations. It is only recommended to go there after having received at least two doses of the vaccine.

  • Alarm cry from the Slovak president

After the Prime Minister, the Slovak President, Zuzana Caputova. Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger reflects “Intensively” to a possible three-week confinement, such as the one that entered into force in Austria, to combat the explosion of coronavirus infections, its services said on Monday. The idea was put forward by the health ministry, and Eduard Heger said expert opinions would be decisive in his thinking.

On Tuesday, in a speech from Bratislava University Hospital, she said her country was losing the fight against Covid-19. “We have the highest rate of infections per million people. (…) The experts are clear: we must restrict the mobility of people, we need confinement … unfortunately, this is a measure that must concern everyone. “

On Monday, Slovakia imposed new restrictions targeting the unvaccinated, who can no longer frequent non-essential stores and malls. They are also not allowed to attend public events or gatherings and are required to take tests twice a week to get to work.

The number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients rose from 161 to 3,182 on Monday, well above the level of 3,000 beds considered critical by the Slovak health ministry. The latter said that more than 82% of patients were not fully vaccinated. At 45.3%, Slovakia’s vaccination rate is one of the lowest in the EU, well below the average of 67.7% of the Twenty-Seven. Overall, the nation of 5.5 million people has recorded 621,423 cases with 13,985 deaths.

Le Monde with AP, AFP and Reuters

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