Countries like Netherland, Poland, Denmark and Germany are witnessing a quick rise in the number of Covid cases. Europe has seen a sharp rise in Covid cases in the month of October, sending alarm bells ringing in the continent. Just the past week saw a 6 percent increase in the number of cases.
According to WHO, with a rise of over 50 percent in the number of cases last month, Europe has become the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to WHO Europe’s regional director Hans Kluge, the European region accounted for 59% of all cases globally & 48% of reported deaths last week. Cumulatively, at 78 million, there are now more reported cases in the European Region than in South-East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Western Pacific & Africa combined. Currently 75% of fatal cases are in persons aged 65 years and above. If this trajectory continues, there could be another half a million Covid deaths in the region by February 2022.
Is waning immunity responsible for the surge?
A study on the effectiveness of the vaccine Pfizer that was conducted in South California and published in the journal Lancet stated that the vaccine’s ability to protect against the infection was 88 percent in the first month but dropped to 47 percent after five months.
Health care records from the UK and Israel have also shown that vaccines are losing their strength, with participants showing a growing risk of breakthrough infections.
While some do believe waning immunity has a role to play, that is not the only cause for the surge in cases being witnessed.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has said that the surge in cases in the US and Europe are a result of a number of factors that include winter season, waning immunity for those who were vaccinated a few months ago, making them more susceptible to the infection, and decreased used of masks.
WHO emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan said that uneven distribution of vaccines despite plenty of availability was also a reason for the rise in cases. He urged the authorities in Europe to “close the gap” in vaccination.
WHO Europe has said that the two factors accounting for the spike are- insufficient vaccination coverage and the relaxation of public health and social measures.
WHO has also criticised the rich countries for rolling out booster vaccines while a significant number of population in poorer countries are yet to receive their first vaccine shot.
WHO Director Tedros said that countries that have vaccinated 40 percent of their population should donate their doses to poorer countries which are yet to administer the first vaccine dose to its citizens. He added that apart from people who are immuno-compromised, booster doses should not be administered to others.