WHO predicts “harsher” autumn in Europe

An autumn ” harder “ is looming with a rise in the number of deaths from Covid-19 in Europe, which should call for a targeted response but not generalized containments, said the director of the European branch of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“It’s going to get harder. In October, in November, we will see a higher mortality “, said Hans Kluge, as the number of registered cases soars on the Old Continent, but with a daily death toll so far almost stable.

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This increase in the number of daily deaths will be due to the rise in cases due to the resumption of the epidemic in Europe, according to the WHO.

“We are at a time when countries do not want to hear this kind of bad news, and I understand”, said the boss of his European branch, who however wanted to address “The positive message” than the pandemic “Will stop, at one time or another”.

The epidemic will not stop with the arrival of a vaccine

WHO Europe brings together on Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 September all of its fifty or so Member States to discuss the response to the pandemic and agree on its five-year strategy.

The senior UN official, based in Copenhagen, warned those who believe the end of the epidemic will coincide with the development of a vaccine, still underway. “I hear all the time: ‘the vaccine is going to be the end of the epidemic. Of course not ! “exclaimed Hans Kluge.

“We don’t even know if the vaccine is going to be effective for all parts of the population. Some signs we are getting is that it will be effective for some but not for others ”, underlined the Belgian doctor. “And if suddenly we have to order different vaccines, what a logistical nightmare …”, also warned Hans Kluge, hoping that Europe will be able to show solidarity.

“The end of this pandemic will be when, as a community, we learn to live with this pandemic. And that depends on us. It’s a very positive message ”, he said.

Against the politicization of the crisis

Faced with a new disease, he defended the trial and error of the authorities in recent months and warned against an overly politicized management of the health crisis in a context where doubt has instilled within the populations.

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It is important to found the response to Covid-19 “On epidemiological and public health data”, he insisted. “The WHO has been criticized several times, but communicating about something that you do not know perfectly is very, very difficult”, he defended. “For some, you do too little, for others, you go too far”.

As research progresses gradually, knowledge remains imperfect and for the first time, decisions must be made on the basis of incomplete evidence, summarized Hans Kluge. And to deplore: “In a number of countries, we see that politics is imposed on scientists, and also in a number of other countries we see that people doubt science, it is very dangerous”.

Number of cases on the rise

The number of cases in Europe has been rising sharply for several weeks, especially in Spain and France. According to public data from the organization, more than 51,000 new cases were reported for Friday alone in the 55 countries of WHO Europe. This is more than the peaks seen in April, although testing capacity was significantly lower at the time, according to experts.

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For now, the number of daily deaths remains at the level observed since the beginning of June, around 400 to 500 deaths linked to Covid-19, according to the same data. However, the pandemic should not be managed in the same way as at the end of last winter, according to the WHO.

“In February, we targeted society as a whole (…) now we are targeting the virus”, insisted Hans Kluge. “Schools may have to close temporarily and locally but if we have a good monitoring system we should be able to control (the virus) locally and after a few weeks relax the restrictions”, detailed the manager.

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