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WHO says Europe is the current epicenter of the COVID pandemic

A pedestrian walks past a COVID test center in Berlin, on November 4, 2021.(Tobias Schwarz/AFP)
A pedestrian walks past a COVID test center in Berlin, on November 4, 2021.(Tobias Schwarz/AFP)

Top officials at the World Health Organization say that Europe has seen a more than 50 percent jump in coronavirus cases in the last month, making it the epicenter of the pandemic despite an ample supply of vaccines.

“There may be plenty of vaccine available, but uptake of vaccine has not been equal,” WHO emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan says during a press briefing. He calls for European authorities to “close the gap” in vaccinations.

The director of WHO’s 53-country Europe region, Dr. Hans Kluge, says the rising COVID-19 case counts are of “grave concern.”

“Europe is back at the epicenter of the pandemic, where we were one year ago,” says Kluge from WHO’s Copenhagen offices. He warns that coronavirus hospitalization rates more than doubled in the last week and predicts that, on that trajectory, the region could see another 500,000 pandemic deaths by February.

WHO Europe says the region, which stretches as far east as the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, tallied nearly 1.8 million new weekly cases, an increase of about 6% from the previous week, and 24,000 COVID-19 weekly deaths — a 12% gain.

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