By the soaring number of cases across Europe heading into the holiday season, the World Health Organization is urging the general public to use COVID prevention tactics – such as masking and distance – regardless of their vaccination status.
People in some communities and countries have been tempted into a “false sense of security” that the pandemic is over and that those who have received vaccinations are protected from Covid, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said Wednesday in Geneva.
The WHO Director-General told how Covid vaccines “save lives” and reduce the possibility of severe illness and mortality, but vaccinated individuals are still susceptible to contracting and spreading the disease if social mixing resumes back to its pre-pandemic levels.
“Even if you’re vaccinated, continue to take precautions to prevent becoming infected yourself, and to infect someone else who could die,” Tedros stated.
“That means wearing a mask, maintaining distance, avoiding crowds, and meeting others outside if you can, or in a well-ventilated space inside.”
According to Tedros, Europe is “the epicenter of the pandemic,” with “unsustainable pressure” on both the healthcare systems and personnel.
There were more than 2.4 million Covid infections in Europe during the week ending Nov. 21 – 67% of the global total.
According to the most recent WHO epidemiological update, the number of cases increased by 11% from the previous week.
Covid deaths in Europe and Central Asia have exceeded 1.5 million according to the WHO.
An additional 700,000 deaths are may occur by March 2022 according to its predictions.
It also predicted that within the next four months, intensive care units in 49 out of 53 countries in the region may experience high or extreme levels of stress.
According to Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, governments rolling back public health measures are fueling Europe’s current outbreak.
“In Europe, even in the midst of a very, very strong resurgence in cases, and even in the midst of some of those countries under huge pressure in their health systems, we’re seeing pre-pandemic levels of social mixing, gathering, and many other things,” Ryan expressed.
“And the reality is the virus will continue to transmit intensely in that environment.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the US Food and Drug Administration and a Pfizer board member, told CNBC that the poor monitoring of breakthrough infections in the United States has led to more people contracting the virus than they realize.
“At this point, I think we need to accept that there’s a lot of breakthrough infections happening, particularly people who are out a significant portion of time from their original vaccination,” Gottlieb stated.
“There’s going to be retrospective studies that identify this, but we’re not doing a good job of tracking this in real-time. And this is the argument for people to go out and get boosters,” he said.
Later, Tedros indicated that although most of the reported Covid cases have been in Europe, he continued that “no country or region is out of the woods” at the moment.
Going further, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid, Maria Van Kerkhove, said that vaccination coverage, mask use, and improved ventilation indoors can help reduce transmission of Covid without resorting to lockdowns for the holidays.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the number of cases of Covid Infections is rising in the United States, with approximately 95,000 new cases reported every day.
The virus kills an average of 1,100 people in the U.S. every day, according to Hopkins.
A total of 51,000 Americans has been hospitalized with Covid-19 has risen, this is 7% higher than in the past week, according to a seven-day average of data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
CDC recommends wearing a mask in public places if you are unvaccinated and over the age of 2.
In places where there is an increased risk of Covid transmission, fully vaccinated individuals should wear facial covers indoors or in crowded outdoor areas.
In addition, masks wearing are required by the CDC in all airports, trains, and buses.
According to the CDC, people living in different households should maintain six feet of distance between them, especially if they are at high risk for severe Covid symptoms.
All adults in the U.S. were cleared to take Pfizer and Moderna boosters on Friday. The CDC granted permission for Johnson & Johnson boosters in October.
WHO Criticize Wealthy Countries for not Giving out Vaccine to Poorer Countries?
As a result of the limited access to vaccines in poorer nations, the WHO has criticized vaccine boosters widely distributed in wealthy nations.
Austria entered its fourth full Covid lockdown on Monday, enforcing its vaccine mandate nationwide starting Feb. 1.
The Netherlands and the Netherlands entered a partial lockdown on Saturday. CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University indicates Germany is also contemplating a lockdown as the country’s average daily new cases rose by 29% to 53,100 on Tuesday, making it the highest number on record.
With the rising vaccination rates and new therapeutic treatments, the Biden administration said on Monday there are no plans for a lockdown. Paxlovid, a treatment pill produced by Pfizer, was shown in a clinical trial to be highly effective in preventing hospitalizations. The United States government has purchased 10 million Paxlovid.
“We can curb the spread of the virus without having to in any way shut down our economy,” said Coronavirus response coordinator of the White House, Jeff Zients in a briefing.
“We have 82% of people now with one shot and more and more people getting vaccinated each week.”