Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

EUROPE PASSES 1 mllion deaths; situation ‘serious.’


GENEVA — A top official from the World Health Organizati­on says Europe has surpassed 1 million deaths from covid-19 and the situation remains “serious,” with about 1.6 million new cases reported each week.

The comments by Dr. Hans Kluge on Thursday aimed to emphasize that Europe must keep up its guard with social distancing and speed up vaccinatio­ns as virus variants drive new infections to record levels in some nations.

Overall, a tally by Johns Hopkins University shows nearly 3 million deaths have been linked to covid-19 worldwide — with the Americas hardest-hit, followed by Europe. The United States, Brazil and Mexico have reported the highest number of deaths, collective­ly at more than 1.1 million.

The U.S. has recorded more than 31,491,000 covid-19 cases and more than 565,000 deaths.

Worldwide, the virus is claiming about 12,000 lives each day.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Greece, Kluge did point to “early signs that transmissi­on may be slowing across several countries” in agency’s 53-country European region, which stretches into Central Asia —and cited “declining incidence” among the oldest people.

He said the proportion of covid-19 deaths among people older than 80, who have been prioritize­d for vaccines, had dropped to nearly 30% — the lowest level in the pandemic.

Britain in particular has seen new infections and deaths drop dramatical­ly since January, because of a successful vaccinatio­n program and a prolonged national lockdown that is being reversed only in stages.

Addressing recent concerns about vaccines, Kluge also said the risk of people suffering blood clots is far higher for people with covid-19 than for people who receive AstraZenec­a’s vaccine.

“Let there be no doubt about it, the AstraZenec­a vaccine is effective in reducing covid-19 hospitaliz­ation and preventing deaths,” he said, adding that the health agency recommends its use for all eligible adults.

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