A drop in new Covid-19 infections across Europe should not give people a “false sense of security”, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional chief has warned, adding that the spread of new variants is a cause for concern.
“At this point, the overwhelming majority of European countries remain vulnerable,” WHO Europe director Hans Kluge told a press conference on Thursday. He then noted that “the decline in cases conceals increasing numbers of outbreaks and community spread involving variants of concern.”
Kluge claimed that there is “a thin line between the hope of a vaccine and a false sense of security,” and that governments must learn from their earlier mistakes and not ease restrictions on socializing too soon.
“Time and again have we seen countries reopen too fast and lose hard-earned gains… Unless we halt transmission now, the expected benefits from vaccinations in controlling this pandemic may not be evident,” the health chief stated.
Kluge reiterated the concerns shared by many national health officials that Covid-19 variants could undermine vaccination efforts if they are allowed to circulate freely around Europe.
With many countries across the WHO’s European region yet to kick off their inoculation programs, Kluge warned against the inequitable distribution of vaccines, saing: “Unfair access to vaccines, can backfire. The longer the virus lingers, the greater the risk of dangerous mutations.”
WHO data from 29 countries in Europe that have started inoculations suggest that just 1.5 percent of citizens have received both jabs.
On Wednesday, Europe registered 128,115 new Covid-19 infections in a single day, down from highs of more than 300,000 in early January.
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