Copenhagen: The World Health Organization warned that 236,000 more people could die from Covid in Europe by December, sounding the alarm over rising infections and stagnating vaccine rates across the continent.
The warning came as the world passed the grim milestone of 4.5 million deaths from Covid since the start of the pandemic, according to an AFP tally on August 30.
Infections rates are ticking up globally again, as the highly transmissible Delta variant takes hold — especially among the unvaccinated — preying on populations where anti-virus measures have been relaxed.
In South Africa, scientists are monitoring a new coronavirus variant with an unusually high mutation rate.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said that C.1.2. can mutate almost twice as fast as other global variants
In another sign of renewed concern, the European Union recommended that member states reimpose travel restrictions on US tourists over rising covid infections in the country.
Case numbers in the United States have surged as the more infectious Delta variant has spread and large swathes of the population have refused to get vaccinated.
Europe has already registered around 1.3 million Covid deaths to date.
Of WHO Europe’s 53 member states, 33 have registered an incidence rate greater than 10 percent in the past two weeks, Kluge said, mostly in poorer countries.
WHO officials said the Delta variant was partly to blame, along with an “exaggerated easing” of restrictions and measures and a surge in summer travel.
While around half of people in the WHO’s Europe region are fully vaccinated, uptake in the region has slowed.
Only six percent of people in lower and lower-middle income countries in Europe are fully vaccinated, and some countries have only managed to vaccinate one in 10 health professionals.