WHO: Europe is the epicenter of pandemic despite vaccines

GENEVA (AP), Top World Health Organization officials said Thursday that Europe saw a more than 50% increase in coronavirus infections in the past month. This makes Europe the epicenter for the pandemic despite having ample vaccine supplies.
The WHO emergency chief Dr. Michael Ryan stated that while there may be lots of vaccines, the uptake has not been equal.

He called on European authorities to close the vaccination gap. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, said that countries that have immunized over 40% of their population should cease and donate their doses for those countries who have not yet offered their citizens the vaccine.

Tedros stated that no boosters should be given to anyone other than those with immuno-compromised patients.

More than 60 countries now offer booster doses to combat the waning immunity ahead of winter. A new COVID-19 wave will be expected. After authorities deemed the benefits to outweigh the risks, the United States has seen children aged 5-11 receive COVID-19 shots.

On Thursday, Dr. Hans Kluge (director of WHO's 53-country Europe region), stated that the increasing COVID-19 cases are a matter of grave concern.

Kluge stated that Europe is now back at the epicenter for the pandemic, the same place it was one year ago. Kluge warned that the coronavirus hospitalization rate has more than doubled over the past week. He also predicted that the region could experience another 500,000 pandemic deaths in February.

WHO Europe reports that the region, which extends as far east as the former Soviet Republics in Central Asia, has nearly 1.8 Million new weekly cases. This is an increase of approximately 6% over the previous week and 24,000 COVID-19 Weekly deaths, a gain of 12%.

Kluge stated that the country in the region was at different stages of vaccination rollout, and that 47% of the population was fully vaccinated. Only eight countries had 70 percent of their population fully vaccinated.

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This week marks the fifth consecutive week of rising COVID-19 cases across Europe. It is the only region in the world where COVID-19 has not slowed down. It was reported that there were 192 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe. This is the highest infection rate.

Anders Tegnell (Sweden's chief epidemiologist) stated Thursday that we are in a new wave and that the increased spread of disease is primarily concentrated in Europe.

In recent weeks, many countries in Central and Eastern Europe saw their daily case numbers increase in recent weeks.

Experts urged people to get immunized during a Thursday online briefing by the Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency.

As we enter winter, we see an increase in hospitalizations, infections, and deaths. Fergus Sweeney is the head of clinical studies at EMAs and the manufacturing task force.

He said that it was important for everyone to get vaccinated. Because we can't all be protected until we all are vaccinated, it is vital that everyone gets vaccinated.


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