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COVID-19 STATS

Europe could see 500,000 more Covid deaths by early 2022, WHO warns

The rising number of cases of Covid-19 in Europe is of "grave concern" and the region could see another half a million deaths by early next year, the World Health Organization warned on Thursday.

People wait in line in front of a vaccination station that is installed at a supermarket in Vienna.
People wait in line in front of a vaccination station that is installed at a supermarket in Vienna. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

With 78 million cases in the WHO’s European region — which spans 53 countries and territories and includes several nations in Central Asia — the cumulative toll now exceeded that of South East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean region, the Western Pacific, and Africa combined, the organisation said.

The warning came as Germany recorded its highest number of daily Covid cases since the beginning of the pandemic, whilst France recorded over 10,000 daily cases on Wednesday for the first time since mid-September.

New Covid cases have also undergone a dramatic rise in Switzerland, where vaccination rates are well behind those of its neighbours. 

READ ALSO: Why are Covid-19 infections in Germany rising?

“We are, once again, at the epicentre,” WHO Europe director Hans Kluge told a press conference.

Kluge noted that the “current pace of transmission across the 53 countries of the European Region is of grave concern.”

According to “one reliable projection” the current trajectory would mean “another half a million Covid-19 deaths” by February, Kluge added.

The increases were observed “across all age groups,” he said.

Kluge blamed the soaring caseload on “insufficient vaccination coverage” and “the relaxation of public health and social measures.”

Hospital admission rates were higher in countries with lower vaccination rates, he said.

Measures like testing, tracing, physical distancing and the use of face masks were still part of the “arsenal” in fighting the virus.

‘Change tactics’

“We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of Covid-19, to preventing them from happening in the first place,” Kluge said.

The number of new cases per day has been rising for nearly six consecutive weeks in Europe and the number of new deaths per day has been rising for just over seven consecutive weeks, with about 250,000 cases and 3,600 deaths per day, according to official country data compiled by AFP.

Over the past seven days, Russia has led the rise with 8,162 deaths, followed by Ukraine with 3,819 deaths and and Romania with 3,100 deaths, according to the data.

Member comments

  1. What a load of tosh !!!!
    Could, should, would…….all based on phone mathematical models that proved totally wrong in the end.
    This is scare mongering at best. It reminds me doctors in France appearing masked on tv in February forecasting people would die on stretchers in hospital hallways.
    Thank God, Macron slammed his fist on the table saying he had enough and refused to lockdown. He was right. Nothing of the forecasted doomsday happened.
    The same is happening now, doctors appearing again masked on tv to the bewilderment of their interviewers.
    Remember Pr Ferguson in the UK, the very one caught with his pants down…..500 000 deaths in the UK…..no less…..
    Do we count the number of flue cases every year ? Nope !! Do we count the number of people flue vaccinated ? Nope !! Does flue kill ? you bet !!!
    Here in France the nonsense is again in full thrust……children age 10 have to mask in schools and it irritates me to see Sweden flogging itself about the way it handled the COVID crisis.

    1. Numbers of flu cases, vaccinations and deaths are indeed counted.
      Percentage chance of dying from seasonal flu is much less than dying from Covid.
      See for example this article in The Lancet containing data from France.
      “Comparison of the characteristics, morbidity, and mortality of COVID-19 and seasonal influenza: a nationwide, population-based retrospective cohort study” December 2020.
      It says, in part, “89 530 patients with COVID-19 and 45 819 patients with influenza were hospitalised in France during the respective study periods….Patients with COVID-19 were more likely to need intensive care, and the mean length of stay in the ICU for COVID-19 was twice as long (15 days [SD 14] for COVID-19 vs 8 days [9] for influenza; table 2). A quarter of patients with COVID-19 remained in the ICU for more than 3 weeks (table 2). Patients with COVID-19 were more likely to require invasive mechanical ventilation than patients with influenza. If admitted to the ICU, patients with COVID-19 were also more likely to need mechanical ventilation than patients with influenza. In-hospital mortality was higher in patients hospitalised for COVID-19 than patients hospitalised for influenza, with a relative risk of death of 2·9 (95% CI 2·8–3·0). We found a standardised mortality ratio of 2·82. Therefore, the number of observed deaths was considerably higher than what would be expected if the COVID-19 population had the same probability of dying as the influenza population. Mortality was also higher in patients with COVID-19 who were admitted to the ICU, whether they were mechanically ventilated or not. After stratifying patients according to the main comorbidities, the in-hospital mortality for patients with COVID-19 was roughly three-times higher than that of patients with influenza, for all the main comorbidities except pulmonary bacterial coinfection, for which in-hospital mortality was two-times higher for patients with COVID-19 “.

  2. Point taken. thanks.
    But my rant had more to do with scaremongering models that until now have proved themselves to be totally wrong.
    Scaring the wit out of people is totally counter productive……..in the end people are sick of it and just want to live normally.
    The number of COVID cases is now pretty disconnected from the number of hospitalised cases who for the vast majority are un vaccinated.
    Getting vaccinated is a no brainer as far as I am concerned.
    It was Sweden but it could have been any other country ……..it showed coolness under pressure and history will show that, all figures balanced …….it will have fared far better than the vast majority.
    Melbourne Australia……361 days of lockdown ( 111 + 250 ) …..New Zealand…..the zero COVID proved to be a total ……global failure and the truth is that New Zealand health system was just bare to the bone and unable to even tackle a fraction of this pandemic.

    1. As an Australian living near Melbourne, I can point out that although there has been much opposition to lockdowns, most people supported them. Australia has avoided the worst of COVID-19 and I, for one, support the sort of measures that avoided the worst of the pandemic plagued Europe in 2020. Models are never exact, and no one producing them expects them to be. They are an essential aid to planning. Anger is not.

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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