Winter Covid Surge Could Kill 700,000 Europeans by Next Spring, WHO Warns

© AP Photo / Frank AugsteinA nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020
A nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.11.2021
The World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe has warned that the region could see up to 700,000 deaths this winter if measures are not quickly taken to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In a release from WHO/Europe, officials noted that Covid deaths have increased to 4,200 a day and that the disease has become the number one cause of death across the 53-country region. The current figure is nearly double the daily death count seen in September.
The region officially topped 1.5 million Covid deaths and WHO/Europe has warned that current trends indicate that the number may balloon to 2.2 million deaths by March 2022, if additional measures are not quickly taken.
Between now and March 2022, WHO/Europe expects that there will be high or extreme stress for hospital beds in 25 countries, and high or extreme stress for intensive care units in 49 out of 53 countries.

“In order to live with this virus and continue our daily lives, we need to take a ‘vaccine plus’ approach. This means getting the standard doses of vaccine, taking a booster if offered, as well as incorporating preventive measures into our normal routines," Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, said.

"Taken together, wearing a mask, washing hands, ventilating indoor spaces, keeping physical distance and sneezing into your elbow are simple, effective ways of gaining control over the virus and keeping societies going.”

The release highlighted three factors driving the increase in Covid cases and deaths, with the first factor being the preeminence of the more transmittable Delta variant. Reportedly, no country in the region has more than 1% of any other variant.
The second factor has been the easing of restrictions and the ongoing rhetoric around the danger of the pandemic. The easing of mask-wearing and social distancing, when coupled with people gathering indoors as a result of the colder weather, is a recipe for Covid, according to health agency.
The third factor is the large number of people still unvaccinated and the waning effectiveness of Covid vaccines. The report details that 53.5% of the region has been vaccinated, but cautions the uneven distribution of vaccines. Some countries have over 80% of their population vaccinated, while others are under 10%.
For those that are fully vaccinated, boosters are suggested for the vulnerable and front-line healthcare workers. The report references a recent study pointing out that mask-wearing “reduces COVID-19 incidence by 53%.”
The report projects that “if from today universal mask coverage of 95% was achieved, it is estimated that over 160, 000 deaths could be prevented by 1 March 2022.”
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