WHO officials say that only 54% of Europe is fully vaccinated

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LONDON-The World Health Organization says that vaccination efforts in Europe are falling behind, and hundreds of thousands of people may die by next spring.

Rob Butler, WHO’s European Executive Director, told CNBC on Wednesday: “Of the 1 billion people living in Europe, only 54% of us are fully vaccinated.”

This area of ​​the United Nations health agency is made up of 53 countries and actually spans Europe and Central Asia, with approximately 900,000 citizens at the time of the last count.

“Have [around] 45% of people are not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated. This is a bigger problem for our policies and decision makers-increasing the vaccination rate,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Wednesday.

Butler’s remarks come as Europe is fighting the latest wave of new coronavirus infections, prompting further restrictions and pushing up hospitalization rates.

Health officials from the region reported that most, if not all, people admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital due to Covid have not been vaccinated. The Covid vaccine cannot completely prevent the spread of the virus, but it can greatly reduce the risk of serious infection, hospitalization, and death.

The WHO warned on Tuesday that a large proportion of the unvaccinated population in Europe puts it at risk of excessive deaths in the coming months, and issued a statement stating that the number of deaths from the new coronavirus in Europe and Central Asia may increase. 700,000, to reach more than 2.2 million in March next year.

The European Division of WHO stated that 1.5 million Covid deaths have been recorded in Europe, and the virus has now become the leading cause of death in Europe and Central Asia.

The statement pointed out that there are currently nearly 4,200 deaths in the area every day, twice the daily death toll recorded at the end of September.

The WHO has repeatedly stated that Europe is at the center of the world’s latest wave of new coronavirus infections. The initial Covid vaccination plan and booster vaccination rates vary from country to country.

Germany is considering stricter Covid restrictions, which may include lockdown measures, and a decision is expected on Wednesday. At the same time, with the increase in the number of infections, Spain is strengthening control. Austria chose a complete blockade, and the Netherlands chose a partial blockade.

So far, Austria is the only country in Europe that will compulsory vaccination against Covid from February next year, although there are also calls from other countries/regions for compulsory vaccination.

WHO’s Butler said that the health agency has no position on authorization, but said it was a “very delicate” issue.

“It is polarized and you risk being marginalized [people] It may come at the expense of trust and social tolerance. So this is a very delicate measure and a last resort. Lessons from history tell us that trust is eroded where vaccination is mandatory or mandatory, and we see this polarization,” he said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Lein called for the deployment of intensified injections on Tuesday and said that other preventive measures must be taken to reduce the number of infections.

“Further measures need to be taken to prevent or slow the spread of the virus. In other words, maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, and observing hygiene rules. All of these are equally important. I know that many of us are really starting to find this difficult, but We must not forget something. In the European Union, 1,600 people die from Covid every day, and 1,600 people die every day,” she pointed out.

“Therefore, vaccination and hygiene measures are an act of solidarity, and they can save lives,” she added.

—— Robert Toy of CNBC reported this story.


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