WHO European Region could hit over 2 million COVID-19 deaths by March 2022, says WHO
The number of deaths in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region that also includes Kazakhstan could reach up to 2 million by March next year, reports Strategy2050.kz citing the latest press release published on the WHO website.
Last week, the number of reported COVID-19 related deaths increased to nearly 4,200 a day, doubling from 2,100 deaths a day at the end of September, and cumulative reported deaths from the virus passed the 1.5 million mark for the 53 countries in this region.
“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. 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. All of us have the opportunity and responsibility to help avert unnecessary tragedy and loss of life, and limit the further disruption to society and businesses over this winter season,” said Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
WHO experts noted several factors that drive COVID-19 transmission – the continued transmission of the Delta variant, easing of measures as well as a large proportion of the population who are still not vaccinated, leaving them very much vulnerable to the virus.
“As we approach the end of 2021, let’s do everything we can by getting vaccinated and taking personal protective measures, to avoid the last resort of lockdowns and school closures. We know through bitter experience that these have extensive economic consequences and a pervasive negative impact on mental health, facilitate interpersonal violence, and are detrimental to children’s well-being and learning,” said Dr Kluge.
According to the WHO, the European Region has administered over one billion doses, with 53.5 percent of people having completed their vaccination course. But vaccination is not even across the region.
“It is essential that we drive up vaccination rates among all those eligible, acknowledging and addressing the reasons why people have not received the vaccine so far, working more closely with behavioral and cultural scientists to understand whether these are systemic barriers to access, or individual and community concerns. The COVID passport, for example, is a collective tool to enable societies and people to continue with regular activities,” said WHO.
Experts urge people to continue following preventive measures, such as wearing masks and regular hand cleaning, maintaining physical distance and avoiding mass gatherings particularly in closed, confined and crowded spaces.
According to the latest WHO survey, 48 percent of people in the region wear a mask when leaving home, based on self-reported data. The recent WHO study on the effectiveness of public health measures shows that mask-wearing reduces COVID-19 incidence by 53 percent.
According to WHO estimates, if from today universal mask coverage of 95 percent was achieved; over 160,000 deaths could be prevented by March 1, 2022.
“Today, the COVID-19 situation across Europe and Central Asia is very serious. We face a challenging winter ahead, but we should not be without hope, because all of us – governments, health authorities, and individuals – can take decisive action to stabilize the pandemic,” said Dr Kluge.