Dr. Hans Kluge, the regional director of WHO Europe, told media on Monday that there has been a greater than 10% increase in 14-day case indicidences in 33 of the 53 member states that it monitors.
While remarking that the “epidemiological picture” across the region “is mixed,” Kluge said that one “reliable projection” anticipates a further 236,000 Covid-19 deaths in Europe by December 1. The WHO European region has already recorded more than 64 million confirmed cases and 1.3 million deaths from Covid.
The regional director said that the high Covid transmission rate is “deeply worrying,” adding that it was particularly concerning considering the low vaccination uptake in priority populations across a number of countries. Kluge warned that there was “a particularly steep increase in cases” in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Central Asia area.
In a tweet Kluge posted on Twitter while sharing his statement, the region chief criticized “vaccine skepticism and science denial” for playing a major role in “holding us back from stabilizing this crisis.”
“Vaccination is a right, but it is also a responsibility,” Kluge added in his statement, warning that stagnation in the uptake of Covid shots is of “serious concern” to the WHO.
In addition to vaccine skepticism, Kluge cited three other factors for a rising hospital Covid caseload and an 11% increase in deaths last week across the European region: the highly transmissible Delta variant; the relaxing of public health measures; and finally, seasonal surges in travel over the continent’s summer months.While Kluge mentioned that almost half the people in the region are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the WHO, only 6% of those in the lower- and lower-middle-income countries are fully vaccinated.