The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned Europe is once again “at the epicentre” of the Covid pandemic, , as cases soar across the continent.
At a press conference WHO Europe head Hans Kluge said the continent could see half a million more deaths by February.
He blamed insufficient vaccine take-up for the rise.
Kluge said; “We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of Covid-19 to preventing them from happening in the first place,”
The rate of vaccination has slowed across the continent in recent months. While some 80% of people in Spain are double jabbed, that number is lower in France and Germany – at 68% and 66% respectively – and lower still in some central and eastern European countries. Only 32% of Russians were fully vaccinated by October 2021.
Kluge also blamed a relaxation of public health measures for rising infections in the WHO’s European region, which covers 53 countries including parts of Central Asia. So far the WHO has recorded 1.4 million deaths across the region.
The WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, said over the past four weeks cases across Europe had soared over 55%, despite an “ample supply of vaccines and tools”, and colleague Dr Mike Ryan said Europe’s experience was a “warning shot for the world”.
It came as Germany recorded almost 34,000 daily Covid cases in the past 24 hours, a record rise.