WHO warns of tipping point in Covid pandemic, says Europe likely seeing ‘most acute’ phase of virus spread

A nurse adjusts her PPE in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south-west London, the place the quantity of intensive care beds for the critically sick has needed to be elevated from 60 to 120, the overwhelming majority of that are for coronavirus sufferers.

Victoria Jones – PA Images | PA Images | Getty Images

LONDON — The World Health Organization on Thursday warned of a tipping point in the battle in opposition to the coronavirus pandemic, amid rising fears over extra infectious variants of the virus which have resulted in a speedy surge of infections.

Countries are scrambling to include two variants discovered in the U.Okay. and South Africa which are significantly extra transmissible, with public well being consultants anxious concerning the potential affect on inoculation efforts.

To ensure, whereas the variants spread extra simply, there is no such thing as a clear proof of the mutated viruses being related to extra extreme illness outcomes. But, being extra transmissible means extra individuals can get contaminated, and this might imply extra critical infections and extra fatalities.

In latest weeks, optimism concerning the mass rollout of Covid-19 vaccines seems to have been tempered by the resurgent charge of virus spread.

“We were prepared for a challenging start to 2021 and it has been just that,” Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, stated in a web-based press briefing.

“This moment represents a tipping point in the course of the pandemic where science, politics, technology and values must form a united front in order to push back this persistent and elusive virus.”

‘We are very a lot in the thick of it’

As of Wednesday, virtually half of all international locations and territories in Europe recorded a seven-day incidence of over 150 new instances per 100,000 inhabitants. The WHO estimated greater than 25% of these have been reporting “very high” incidence charges and strained well being techniques.

“I have to say that at the moment we are very much in the thick of it. Not only are we in the thick of it, we are probably in the European region in the most acute phase of transmission and we continue to see (a) really big impact on hospital wards,” Dr. Catherine Smallwood, senior emergency officer at WHO Europe, stated through the on-line briefing.

“In order to start to change any of that we really need to bring down transmission and we need to control the spread despite the rollout of vaccinations,” Smallwood stated.

The European Commission on Wednesday gave last approval for the use of the Covid vaccine developed by U.S. agency Moderna.

It was the second vaccine to be permitted by the EU’s government arm, with the PfizerBioNTech vaccine having beforehand been given the inexperienced mild.

The EU, which began its vaccination program on Dec. 27, has been criticized for the sluggish rollout of jabs throughout the bloc.

It is making an attempt to meet up with Israel and the U.S., the place giant numbers of individuals have already acquired an inoculation in opposition to the virus.

To date, Europe has recorded 27.5 million confirmed Covid instances and 603,563 associated deaths, based on knowledge compiled by the WHO.

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