SWITZERLAND -The World Health Organization has reported that COVID-19 deaths increased by 10% in Europe in the previous week, making it the only region in the world where both coronavirus cases and fatalities are steadily increasing.
It was the sixth week in a row that infections and deaths increased across the continent. In its weekly report on the pandemic, the United Nations Health Organization said that there were about 3.1 million new cases worldwide, a 1% increase from the previous week.
Nearly two-thirds of coronavirus infections — 1.9 million — occurred in Europe, where cases increased by 7%.
The countries with the most new cases worldwide were the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Germany.
The number of weekly COVID-19 deaths decreased by about 4% worldwide, with the exception of Europe.
Out of the 61 countries in WHO’s European region, including Russia and stretching all the way to Central Asia, 42% reported an increase in cases of at least 10% in the previous week.
WHO reported a 5% drop in new weekly cases and a 14% drop in deaths in the Americas, with the highest numbers coming from the United States.
Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, has asked the US Food and Drug Administration to allow coronavirus vaccine booster shots for all adults, a move that would likely make every adult in America eligible for an extra injection.
Some European countries have already authorized booster shots for all adults, while Israel provides them to anyone aged 12 and up.
Also, Canadian officials have approved a booster dose of the Pfizer’s vaccine for anyone over the age of 18.
In the United States, experts are divided on whether booster shots are required for the entire population as many believe that vaccines continue to provide effective protection against severe disease and hospitalization, particularly for younger people with no underlying medical conditions.
In Germany, Health Minister Jens Spahn wants to roll out boosters to all citizens. But the country’s immunization committee, STIKO, still limits third shots to older or vulnerable people.
WHO has pleaded with countries not to administer any additional boosters until at least the end of the year; approximately 60 countries are actively implementing them.
Meanwhile, Greece has gone taken the other extreme, as the government has announced that booster doses will be made mandatory for everyone.
According to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek government is considering adding an expiration date to vaccination certificates six months after the primary vaccination course.
Another conundrum exists for countries such as Hungary, which has been administering boosters to everyone since August.
Hungary, which purchased vaccines from Russia and China, began providing third doses to all citizens much earlier.
The Chinese vaccine’s lower protective effects, in particular, were a reason for early boosters. As the winter season approaches, Hungary may find itself in need of a fourth dose.
COVID-19 deaths in Southeast Asia and Africa have decreased by about a third, despite the slow uptake of vaccines in those regions, WHO reported.