The World Health Organization (WHO) criticized this Thursday the “unacceptable” slowness of vaccination in Europe, at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is worsening in Latin America, especially in Brazil, which registered in March its most lethal month.
“Currently, the regional situation is the most worrying in several months,” said the director of the WHO Europe division, Hans Kluge.
Of the 2.8 million deaths recorded in the world since December 2019, the Europe region has the largest number, with around 958,000 deaths, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (about 783,500) and the United States and Canada (575,000), according to the AFP balance sheet established on Thursday.
In the Europe zone – with 50 countries, including Russia and several Central Asian states – more than 24,000 deaths were reported last week and are “rapidly” approaching one million in total, according to the organization.
“We need to streamline the process, increasing production, reducing obstacles to [sua] administration (…) and taking advantage of all the stored doses ”, added Kluge.
But on this same Friday, EU member countries fought hard to distribute 10 million additional doses of the drug Pfizer-BioNTech.
The two laboratories also confirmed that the drug is very effective against the so-called South African variant of the coronavirus and also among the youngest.
The Russian vaccine Sputnik V, for its part, will not receive authorization from the EU “before the end of June”, warned the French Secretary of State for Europe, Clement Beaune.
Europe is home to 12% of the world’s population and has administered more than 152 million doses of anti-HIV vaccines, that is, a quarter of all injections in the world.
In the next “8 to 14 days”, Germany will strengthen controls at its land borders, while Italy has decided to extend its measures until April 30. In Austria, the Vienna region will be confined at Easter.
In France, where the situation has been deteriorating for several weeks and is approaching 100,000 deaths, schools will be closed for at least three weeks. The restrictions will be extended to the entire territory.
The consumption of alcohol in public spaces will be banned in the coming weeks, and access to places conducive to outdoor meetings will also be limited, announced French Prime Minister Jean Castex.
No Olympic Flame
The situation is also aggravated in the rest of the world, from Japan to Brazil, through Canada.
In Asia, the Japanese government will announce new restrictions, especially in Osaka, whose regional authorities do not want the Olympic torch relay in the metropolis to limit infections, according to local media.
Across the Pacific, the province of Ontario, Canada’s economic engine, is preparing to announce a 28-day reconfiguration to halt a new wave of infections after Québec announced the closure of non-essential schools and businesses.
Although in the neighboring United States the situation improves as the vaccination progresses, its president Joe Biden urged that the measures continue to be respected, as the use of masks, and that the sports clubs do not open all the chairs of their stadiums.
“We have to reach a point where enough people have been vaccinated to reduce the possibility of (the virus) spreading,” he said.
The worst month in Brazil
In Latin America, Brazil, which on Wednesday approved the emergency use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the death toll is growing at a frightening rate. The South American giant recorded its worst month of the pandemic in March, with more than 66,000 deaths.
After the United States (552,073 deaths), Brazil is the country with the highest number of fatalities in this pandemic (321,515), followed by Mexico (203,210).
“Never has a single event generated so many deaths in 30 days in the history of Brazil,” said doctor Miguel Nicolelis, former coordinator of the Scientific Commission formed by the states of the Northeast to face the pandemic.
According to Nicolelis, “the pandemic is totally out of control and (…) the prospect of reaching half a million deaths in July is already plausible”.
Bolivia closed its border with Brazil for a week, in case a new variant of Covid-19 circulated.
Chile – which shares a land border with Argentina, Bolivia and Peru – has also announced that it will close its borders throughout April. The vaccination campaign is advancing, but so are the cases.
And infections are “on the rise” across the continent, warned the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa Etienne.
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