The World Health Organization Europe said on Monday, August 31, that the high transmission of COVID-19 throughout Europe is “deeply worrying” and called for immunization efforts to be ramped up.
Euronews reported that W.H.O. Europe Regional Director Dr. Hans Kluge recommended that vulnerable Europeans should be given a booster shot, which contradicted WHO Chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ statement that booster shots were not a priority due to the slow vaccine rollout in low and middle-income countries.
Kluge said in an interview with Euronews, “In 15 countries, there is a decrease in vaccination uptake even when the vaccines are available. So we have to work on multiple fronts and one of them is to decrease vaccine hesitancy.”
Kluge further said, “The first priority is to ensure that the most vulnerable get their first and second shot. Then we have to do it all, meaning that in those countries where we see that people with decreased immunity, the elderly people, have a waning immunity against severe disease, then those countries can consider the third dose.”
Kluge added that several countries observed that hospitals are being burdened by the surge of COVID cases, and a “particularly steep increase in cases” is being observed in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asian countries.
Kluge emphasized in a statement that “vaccine skepticism and science denial is holding us back from stabilizing this crisis”, as slow immunization responses could cause cases and deaths to ramp up and lead to new variants arising.
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