The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Europe regional office Tuesday said the 53-country area could see another 700,000 COVID-19 deaths in the next four months if vaccination efforts are not increased. 

In a statement, WHO Europe reports the region saw nearly 4,200 deaths from COVID-19 in the past week, double the number of daily deaths reported at the end of September. 

The region has passed 1.5 million COVID-19 deaths for the pandemic and data compiled for WHO-Europe by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows the disease is now the number one cause of death across Europe and central Asia. 

The WHO regional office projects there will be high or extreme stress for hospital beds in 25 of the region’s countries, and high or extreme stress in intensive care units in 49 nations between now and March 1, 2022. They say based on current trends, cumulative reported deaths are projected to reach more than 2.2 million by March. 

In the statement, WHO Europe Regional Director Hans Kluge called for a ”vaccine plus” approach to allow people of the region to live and continue their daily lives. 

He said, “This means getting the standard doses of vaccine, taking a booster if offered, as well as incorporating preventive measures into our normal routines.” Kluge said the vaccines, plus wearing a mask, washing hands, ventilating indoor spaces, keeping physical distance and sneezing into your elbow are simple, effective ways of gaining control over the infection and keeping societies going. 

Meanwhile, European Union ministers meeting in Brussels Tuesday debated the deployment of boosters around the region to push back the rising tide of COVID-19 cases.

 

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