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Europe may see 236,000 COVID deaths by Dec. – WHO

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…Says booster jabs not luxury

STAGNATING vaccination rates and accelerated transmission of the virus could contribute to over a quarter of a million Europeans dying from coronavirus-related problems before Christmas.

  World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Europe director, Hans Kluge, expressed fear today in a release on the rising transmission rates of coronavirus in Europe at a press conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

  “Last week, there was an 11 per cent increase in the number of deaths in the region —  one reliable projection is expecting 236,000 deaths in Europe, by December 1,” he said.

  Kluge explained that there were three worrying factors: high transmission rates, slowing vaccinations and the easing of restrictions, adding that 33 out of WHO Europe’s 53 member states had an infection rate greater than 10% in the past two weeks, largely driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.

  “The rapid spread of the virus was deeply worrying, particularly in the light of low vaccination uptake in priority populations in a number of countries. In the past six weeks, it has fallen by 14 per cent, influenced by a lack of access to vaccines in some countries and a lack of vaccine acceptance in others. A third dose of vaccine is not a luxury booster (that is) taken away from someone who is still waiting for a first jab. It’s basically a way to keep the most vulnerable safe,” Kluge said.

  Although around half of Europeans are now fully vaccinated, the number of people receiving shots has slowed. The rate of vaccination was lower in poorer European countries, with some only having managed to vaccinate around 10 per cent of healthcare workers.

  It will be recalled that so far, Europe has recorded around 1.3 million coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began.

  Similarly, Kluge said a third dose is not a luxury booster taken away from someone waiting for a first jab.

  “A third dose of vaccine is not a luxury booster taken away from someone who is still waiting for a first jab. It’s basically a way to keep the most vulnerable safe,” he said.

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