The covid threat for Europe ‘remains present,’ WHO says

April 30, 2021: -On Thursday, the World Health Organization said that the threat for Europe posed by the coronavirus “remains present,” despite a recent decline in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths within the area.

“It is 462 days since the Covid-19 cases started. Based on the numbers of confirmed cases, 5.5% of the entire European population have now had Covid-19. In comparison, 7% have gained a full vaccination series,” WHO’s regional director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, said in a Thursday’s press conference.

“But even as the coming cases, hospitalizations, and deaths decrease, the threat remains present,” Kluge added.

The virus still has the potential to inflict devastating effects, he added, and noted that close to half of all reported infections in Europe since the pandemic started have come in the first four months of this year.

Signaling some hope for the region, he added that “for the first time in two months, new cases fell significantly last week. Yet, infection rates across the region remain extremely high.”

In Europe, the U.K. is steadily lifting its lockdown, and its vaccination rollout continues at pace. Till now, almost 34 million adults in the country have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and over 13 million people have had two doses, government data shows.

According to data from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, in mainland Europe, more than 133 million doses of Covid vaccines have been administered so far across 30 counties in the European Economic Area,

The speed of vaccination programs differs wildly throughout the EU, with some countries forging ahead quicker than others.

WHO’s Kluge urged governments not to allow vaccination programs, public engagement with vaccines, or surveillance of the virus, falter.

“Where vaccination rates in high-risk groups are highest, admissions to hospitals are decreasing, and death rates are falling. Vaccines are saving lives, and they will change the course of this pandemic and eventually help end it,” he said.

“We also need to be conscious of the fact that vaccines alone will not ‘end the pandemic.’ Without informing and engaging communities, they remain exposed to the virus. Without surveillance, we can’t identify new variants. And without contact tracing, governments may need to reimpose restrictive measures.”