Europe faces another 700,000 Covid-19 deaths in March, WHO warns

More than 1.5 million people in Europe have already died from Covid during the pandemic. The latest WHO forecasts suggest the number will rise to 2.2 million in the winter months, with “high or extreme stress” hitting intensive care units in 49 of the region’s 53 countries.

But the agency’s statement on Tuesday also emphasized that wearing masks could prevent many of those deaths. If 95% of people wore masks, the WHO estimated that more than 160,000 fatalities would be avoided by the spring.

“To live with this virus and continue our daily lives, we need to take a ‘vaccine plus’ approach,” said Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe. That means wearing masks, social distancing, ventilating indoor spaces and washing hands.

“We all have the opportunity and responsibility to help prevent unnecessary tragedies and loss of life and limit further disruption to society and business during this winter season,” Kluge added.

Europe has been paralyzed by a spate of Delta cases in recent weeks. In Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ireland, Russia and beyond, contamination records have been broken several times, with several countries resorting to drastic measures to counter the wave.

Austria plans to become the first country in the region to mandate vaccinations by February, and leaders across the European Union have expressed frustration to those who have not yet received an injection.

Angry anti-lockdown protests took place this weekend in the Austrian capital of Vienna, as well as in the Netherlands and Belgium, but as Christmas approaches, severe new restrictions remain in place across the continent.

And that may be key to preventing this surge and keeping future spikes at bay, experts say, until enough people are vaccinated.

“It’s too late to prevent another wave because vaccination rates are too low. So we need to focus on keeping mortality low,” Kluge told CNN on Tuesday.

“Just focusing on vaccinations isn’t going to help us. We all have to do it.”


Q: How can we prepare for a possible Covid wave this winter?

AN: Winter is almost here and with colder weather and an increase in indoor gatherings, the risk of transmission of Covid is greater.

However, unlike last year, we have vaccines that add an important layer of protection, and other tools, such as testing, that can help. So while there may be heightened risks, we don’t have to resign ourselves to a winter wave. CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen shares her tips to prepare you safely and get through this period.

  • Anyone eligible to be vaccinated should do so, including children ages 5 to 11 and those who are now eligible for their booster injections.
  • Get the flu vaccine to avoid the possibility of a “twin epidemic” of flu and Covid-19.
  • Stock up on quick tests. In the United States, these are available without a prescription at your local pharmacy.
  • High-quality masks (N95, KN95, KF94) should be worn indoors and in crowded areas.
  • Many medical appointments have been postponed due to Covid-19. Now is the time to get on top of your other medical problems.
  • Opt for outdoor gatherings whenever possible and stay cautious.
Ask your questions here. Are you a health worker fighting Covid-19? Message us via WhatsApp about the challenges you are facing: +1 347-322-0415.


Romania battles worst Covid-19 wave yet as bodies pile up outside a morgue

In the morgue of Bucharest University Hospital, a doctor drove a nail into a wooden box. A colleague sprayed the box with disinfectant.

“It’s relentless — relentless,” sighed Nurse Claudiu Ionita, standing in front of a row of stretchers in the hospital morgue. On each stretcher was a body in a black plastic bag.

The morgue has a capacity for 15 bodies, but by the day CNN arrived, it had received 41 bodies, with the outside hallway filling the hallway.

Bucharest University Hospital is the Romanian capital’s largest medical facility treating Covid-19 patients and is struggling through the country’s fourth wave, the worst yet, Cristiana Moisescu and Ben Wedeman report.

Romania has one of Europe’s lowest vaccination rates, with less than 36% of the population vaccinated. Medical personnel and officials have attributed it to several factors, including suspicion from authorities, deeply held religious beliefs and a flood of misinformation circulating through social media.

Europe learns a crucial lesson: Vaccines work, but they won’t stop Covid alone

As the vaccination rollout in Western Europe gained momentum in early 2021, many of the region’s leaders touted the shots as their immediate way out of the pandemic. But nations are now taking into account the gradually waning immunity of those doses, writes Rob Picheta.

Even relatively high vaccination coverage alone isn’t enough to stop the spread of Covid-19 – and warning signs from Germany and Austria – where infections have risen in recent weeks – show the dangers of complacency.

Restrictions vary from country to country, and compliance with them can also vary greatly. “The vaccine keeps deaths in check — but what we’re seeing is a virus that has proven itself endemic, and it’s made more progress in some countries than others because there have been less rigid controls,” said David Heymann, a former Executive Director of the WHO Communicable Disease Cluster and a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

What the world can learn from the booster rollout in Israel

When it comes to Covid-19, it seems that where Israel leads, the rest of the world follows. For nearly a year, the country has been offering other countries a glimpse into the future of the pandemic.

In late July, the country began offering boosters to people over 60; since the end of August, boosters have been available to anyone over the age of 16, five months after their second dose of the vaccine.

Now, in Israel, a person is not considered fully vaccinated until they receive a third dose of the vaccine, once they qualify.

More than three months later, Israeli health officials say the data is clear: booster shots helped bring down the fourth wave of the virus that swept the country in August and September, Hadas Gold writes.

The data shows big differences between those with the vaccine — and the booster — and those without: On many days in the past month, more than 75% of positive cases were among the unvaccinated, according to health ministry data.


Get ready for Thanksgiving

While many of us look forward to reuniting with loved ones and celebrating the holidays, we need to stay Covid safe.

“Get vaccinated and you can continue to enjoy interactions with your family and others.” dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN. He added that if you and your family members are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, it’s okay to take off the masks when you’re together this holiday season.

“And if you’re not [vaccinated]”Please be careful,” Fauci said. “Get tested…when you get together.”

CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen has some tips on how to travel and celebrate the holidays safely, whether your area is fully vaccinated or not.


For many of us, Thanksgiving means reuniting with friends or family we haven’t seen in a while. But before you sit down around the dinner table, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta tips to share to protect loved ones from Covid-19. In addition, invites Dr. Gupta takes us out to his home, where he and his daughters prepare a special family recipe that is sure to warm up any holiday gathering. Listen.

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