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Over two million people in the European region are expected to have died from COVID-19 by March 2022, according to estimates from the World Health Organization’s Europe office.
Tuesday’s grim projection from the WHO includes data indicating that deaths due to the virus doubled last week compared to the end of September. Total deaths now exceed 1.5 million in the WHO European region, which covers Europe as well as several countries that straddle Asia or the Middle East, such as Russia and Turkey.
COVID-19 is today also the leading cause of death in Europe and Central Asia, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which does modeling for the WHO. What’s needed to tackle rising cases and deaths is a “vaccine plus” approach, said Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe.
“This means getting the standard doses of vaccine, taking a booster if offered, as well as incorporating preventive measures into our normal routines,” he said.
The WHO attributes three main factors to the current levels of transmission — the Delta variant, relaxation of restrictions and large numbers of unvaccinated people. It’s an assessment repeated by many public health experts, who have pointed to the lifting of restrictions in the U.K. on “freedom day” in July as sparking its most recent wave. More recent relaxations in continental Europe are being curtailed as cases continue to rise and countries debate vaccine mandates.
Créditos: Comité científico Covid