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Europe surpasses 1 million COVID-19 deaths, WHO says

Public health worker in Serbia
A public health worker in Belgrade awaits a visit by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday.
(Darko Vojinovic / Associated Press)

A top official from the World Health Organization says that Europe has surpassed 1 million deaths from COVID-19 and that the situation remains “serious,” with about 1.6 million new cases reported each week in the region.

Overall, a tally by Johns Hopkins University shows nearly 3 million deaths have been linked to COVID-19 worldwide, with the Americas hardest hit, followed by Europe. The United States, Brazil and Mexico have reported the highest number of deaths, with a collective total of more than 1.1 million.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Greece, Dr. Hans Kluge of the WHO did point to “early signs that transmission may be slowing across several countries” and cited “declining incidence” among the oldest people.

He said the proportion of COVID-19 deaths among people over 80, who have been prioritized for vaccines, had dropped to nearly 30% — the lowest level in the pandemic.

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In France, the COVID-19 death toll is expected to pass 100,000 on Thursday after a year of on-and-off lockdowns and personal loss that have left families across the country grieving the pandemic’s unending, devastating toll.

The nation of 67 million would be the eighth in the world to reach the symbolic mark, and the third in Europe after Britain and Italy.

Addressing recent concerns about vaccines, Kluge also said the risk of people suffering blood clots is far higher for people with COVID-19 than people who receive AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which has been linked to rare blood clots in a small number of recipients.

“For now, the risk of suffering blood clots is much higher for someone with COVID-19 than for someone who has taken the AstraZeneca vaccine,” he said.

“Let there be no doubt about it, the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective in reducing COVID-19 hospitalization and preventing deaths,” he added, saying that the WHO recommends its use for all eligible adults.


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