The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that unless citizens and legislators “observe discipline”, the third wave of infections is now inevitable, and said that the 10-week decline in the number of new coronavirus infections in Europe has ended.
Hans Kruger, the European regional director of the United Nations health agency, said at a press conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on Thursday that the number of new cases across Europe had increased by 10% last week.
The 53 countries of the WHO European region include all 27 member states of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Russia, Turkey, several Central Asian countries, and Israel.
Kruger said that as countries throughout the region gradually get rid of blockade measures, the increase in mixing, travel, gatherings, and relaxation of social restrictions has driven the increase in infection rates.
“This is happening under conditions of rapid development. A worrying new variant-the delta variant-is in a region where millions of people are not vaccinated despite the tremendous efforts of member states,” he Said, and cited the strain first discovered in India.
“Unless we maintain discipline, we will set off a new wave in the WHO European region.”
Last week, the number of cases increased by 10%, driven by mixing, travel, parties, and relaxation of social restrictions. This is happening in the context of rapid development- @hans_kluge
-WHO/Europe (@WHO_Europe) July 1, 2021
Kluge warned that by August, the highly contagious Delta variant is expected to become the main strain in the WHO European region.
‘The conditions for the new wave are in place’
He said that with the surge, the launch of vaccines is not efficient enough to provide the necessary protection. 63% of people in this area have not yet received the first dose.
The vaccine has been shown to provide some protection against Delta variants, but higher levels require two doses.
Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy at the European Medicines Agency, said at a press conference on Thursday: “New data from real-world evidence suggests that the two doses of the vaccine have a protective effect on the Delta variant.”
Kruger said that the average vaccine coverage in Europe is 24%.
He said that half of the elderly and 40% of medical staff are still unprotected.
“This is unacceptable, which is far from the recommended coverage of 80% of the adult population,” he told reporters.
“Therefore, the three conditions for a new wave of excessive hospitalization and death before the fall have been put in place: new mutations, insufficient vaccination, and increased social integration.”
Kruger suggested that people who want to travel and party in Europe in the summer continue to wear masks and other “life-saving instincts.”
EU launches travel permit
His appeal came as the European Union launched a digital COVID certificate system on Thursday, which aims to help people cross the G27 more freely and open summer tourism.
The document-essentially a QR code-is available for free and will show whether the ticket holder is fully vaccinated with one of the four EU-approved vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer Biotech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.
It will also indicate whether a person has recovered from COVID, or the most recent test result was negative, and will be issued and valid in all EU countries in the national language and English.
The system has also been extended to non-EU countries in the borderless Schengen area-Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Approximately 40% of EU adults are vaccinated.
Although a United Nations study this week welcomed the EU COVID-19 Pass as a rare example of coordinated travel arrangements among countries, it is not expected to prove that it can completely save the tourism industry.
It does not remove restrictions on those who have not been fully vaccinated-which means that many travelers, including children, still need to be tested for COVID-19-and specific travel rules are still set by the national government.