A third wave of infections is now inevitable unless citizens and lawmakers are “disciplined,” warns the World Health Organization (WHO), which says the 10-week decline in new infections is over. coronavirus throughout Europe.
The number of new cases in Europe rose 10 percent last week, UN Health Agency Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge told a news conference Thursday in Copenhagen, Denmark.
WHO’s European region of 53 nations includes the 27 member states of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Russia, Turkey, several Central Asian nations and Israel.
Kluge said the rise in infections was driven by increased mixing, travel, meetings and the easing of social restrictions as countries across the region abandon blocking measures.
“This is happening in the context of a rapidly evolving situation. A new variant of concern – the Delta variant – and in a region where, despite the enormous efforts of member states, millions remain unvaccinated, ”he said, citing the strain first discovered in India.
“There will be a new wave in the WHO European region unless we are disciplined.”
Last week, the number of cases increased by 10%, driven by increased mixing, travel, meetings and reduced social restrictions. This is happening in the context of a rapidly evolving situation: @hans_kluge
– WHO / Europe (@WHO_Europe) July 1, 2021
Kluge warned that the highly infectious Delta variant was on its way to becoming the dominant strain in the WHO European region in August.
“Conditions for a new wave in place”
He said vaccines were not being deployed efficiently enough to provide the necessary protection amid the increase. 63 percent of people in the region have not yet received a first dose.
Vaccines have been shown to offer some protection against the Delta variant, but a higher level requires two doses.
Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy at the European Medicines Agency, told a news conference on Thursday: “Emerging real-world test data show that two doses of vaccine are protective against the Delta variant.”
Kluge said the average vaccine coverage in the European region was 24%.
Half of the elderly and 40 percent of health workers were still unprotected, he said.
“This is unacceptable and is far from the recommended coverage of 80% of the adult population,” he told reporters.
“The three conditions for a new wave of excess hospitalizations and deaths before the autumn are in place: new variants, deficit in vaccine uptake, increased social mix.”
Kluge advised people who want to travel and meet during the European summer to continue with “life-saving reflexes,” such as wearing masks.
The EU launches a travel certificate
His call came when the EU on Thursday launched a COVID digital certificate system designed to help people travel more freely across the 27-nation bloc and open up summer tourism.
The document (essentially a QR code) is free to download and will show if the carrier is fully vaccinated with one of the four EU-approved coups, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
It will also indicate whether a person has recovered from COVID or has a recent negative test result, and will be issued and validated in all EU countries, indicated in the national language and in English.
The system also extends to non-EU countries in the border-free Schengen area: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
About 40 percent of all EU adults are fully vaccinated.
While a UN study this week welcomed the EU’s COVID-19 pass as a rare example of countries harmonizing travel agreements, it is not expected to be able to fully rescue the tourism industry. .
It does not remove restrictions for those who are not fully vaccinated, which means that many travelers, including children, would have to take COVID-19 tests, and national governments continue to set specific rules on travel.