As the European region battles a revival in COVID-19 outbreaks, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe called on policymakers to “scale up all vaccine manufacturing and vaccination”. According to WHO Europe, only 10% of the region’s overall population has received one vaccine injection, and only 4% has completed the whole vaccine sequence.
“Let me be clear: we must speed up the process by ramping up manufacturing, reducing barriers to administering vaccines and using every single vial we have in stock, now,” said Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
According to the WHO regional office, there were 1.6 million new COVID-19 cases and 24,000 deaths last week, making Europe the second most afflicted region globally, stressing the importance of a quicker vaccine roll-out.
“Vaccines present are our best way out of this pandemic. However, the roll-out of these vaccines is unacceptably slow,” said Kluge.
WHO Europe is particularly concerned about the continuing gap in vaccine roll-out around the European region, which has seen every high-income nation vaccinate while “just 80% of upper-middle-income countries and 60% of medium- and lower-middle-income countries” vaccinate.
“While acknowledging the intent of governments to protect their populations. Before the vaccines are extended to other age groups, I strongly urge governments to share excess doses of WHO-approved vaccines with COVAX or with countries in need once healthcare workers and the most vulnerable have been vaccinated,” said Kluge.
COVAX is a World Health Organization-led program designed to ensure that all nations have fair access to COVID-19 vaccines. According to WHO Europe figures, the overall number of deaths in Europe is rapidly reaching one million. The estimated number of coronavirus infection cases will soon reach 45 million.
“Only five weeks ago, the weekly number of recent cases in Europe had dipped to under one million. Now the region’s situation is more worrying than we have seen in several months,” said Dorit Nitzan, Regional Emergency Director for the WHO Regional Office for Europe.
According to WHO Europe, vaccination may have been used with prompt and tailored public health policies.
“And as long as the coverage remains low, we need to apply the same public health and social measures as we have in the past to compensate for delayed schedules,” said Kluge.
Regarding the heightened movement around the Easter holidays, as variants of concern disperse throughout the country, Kluge urged people and governments to accept their responsibilities in the pandemic’s face.