As COVID Cases Surge in Europe, US Death Toll Now Surpasses 2020 Fatalities

Europe is in the grips potentially devastating Fourth coronavirus wave, the United States now recorded There will be more Covid-19 deaths than in 2020 in 2021, raising alarm among public health professionals who fear another winter surge.

Dr. Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe, warned Saturday that the coronavirus could kill 500,000 more people in Europe by March if political leaders don’t take immediate action to forestall the current spread and increase vaccine uptake, which has been lagging in parts of the continent due, in some casesTo anti-vaccine sentiment.

“Covid-19 has become once again the number one cause of mortality in our region,” Kluge told the BBC.

Austria’s government announced Friday that it would establish a new system to reduce the number of deaths, hospitalizations and cases. nationwide lockdown Soon, the government will require coronavirus vaccinations in all its adult population. Thus far, around 65% of Austria’s population has been fully vaccinated — one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.

“The virus is back with new rigor in Europe again and new catastrophic waves are imminent in Africa and Asia,” said Shailly Gupta, communications adviser with Doctors Without Borders’ Access Campaign, pointing to regions that have been denied adequate supplies of vaccines and therapeutics. “Wealthy nations need to understand that unless everyone everywhere is vaccinated, the situation is not going to change.”

“Countries need to stop hoarding tests, drugs, and vaccines and big pharmaceutical companies need to stop hoarding technology if they really want to control this pandemic,” she added.

Austria’s mandate, set to take effect in February, prompted immediate backlash. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people — including many aligned with the country’s far-right Freedom Party — took to the streets of Vienna to denounce the public health measure, which Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said is necessary to break the nation’s vaccination plateau and prevent further deaths.

“We have too many political forces in this country who vehemently and massively fight against this,” he said in a speech Friday. “This is irresponsible. It is a threat to our health system. Too many people have not been vaccinated due to the fake news and anti-vaxxers. This has led to overcrowded intensive care units and immense human suffering. No one can want that.”

The Associated Press reported that “demonstrations against virus restrictions also took place in Switzerland, Croatia, Italy, Northern Ireland, and the Netherlands on Saturday, a day after Dutch police opened fire on protesters and seven people were injured in rioting that erupted in Rotterdam.”

“Protesters rallied against coronavirus restrictions and mandatory Covid-19 passes needed in many European countries to enter restaurants, Christmas markets, or sports events, as well as mandatory vaccinations,” AP noted. “The Austrian lockdown will start Monday and comes as average daily deaths have tripled in recent weeks and hospitals in heavily hit states have warned that intensive care units are reaching capacity.”

As The Week’s Ryan Cooper noted in a recent column, “There is a clear inverse relationship between shots and spread” in Europe.

“The countries suffering truly galloping outbreaks — mostly places to the south and east like Greece, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, and Slovakia — are typically below 70% full vaccination, often quite far below. There appears to be a rough threshold at 75-80% vaccination, where the rate is much slower. It’s surely not a coincidence Portugal and Spain are the most-vaccinated countries on the continent, and both have thus far mostly avoided a big resurgence.”

Data from the U.S. and Johns Hopkins University indicate that the official Covid-19 death count in 2021 has exceeded 385,457, surpassing 2020 fatalities. The nation’s total death count currently stands at 770,800 — the highest in the world.

“The spread of the highly contagious Delta variant Important factors were low vaccination rates in some communities. [this year],” the Wall Street Journal reported. “The milestone comes as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations move higher again in places such as New England and the upper Midwest, with the seven-day average for new cases recently closer to 90,000 a day after it neared 70,000 last month.”

There are very few restrictions on public health that could prevent this surge. remain In place across the U.S. suspended After a federal appeals judge, private businesses are required to comply with the testing and vaccination mandates. temporarily halted These are the requirements.

All U.S. adults are now eligible for booster shots, but public health experts have cautioned that the broad availability of third doses may not do much to stem the current spike in cases given that it’s largely being fueled The unvaccinated. According to the CDC, less than 60% of the U.S. population are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. latest figures Our World in Data.

Recent analysis By the Financial Times The WHO found that booster shots were given in rich countries more often over a three month period than in countries with low income in 2021. The WHO’s head demanded that a moratorium In an effort to boost vaccination drives in poor countries in August, the U.S. and other wealthy countries will provide booster shots. dismissed his demand.

Just 5% of people Low-income countries must have at least one coronavirus vaccination.

“The evidence isn’t there that a large rollout of boosters is really going to have that much impact on the epidemic,” argued Ira Longini Jr. is a professor of biostatistics at The University of Florida and a vaccine expert.

Tom Philpott This is Mother Jones wrote Saturday that “in the popular imagination, 2020 gets all the bad press, but this year has been no sunny day at the beach, either.”

“Sure, several effective Covid-19 vaccines emerged, but so did the highly contagious Delta variant, as well as new, more virulent strains of anti-vax sentiment, tightly yoked to conservative political ideology,” Philpott noted. “Worst of all, intellectual property hoarding has meant that the vaccines have so far largely bypassed low-income nations of the Global South, wreaking untold human misery and giving the virus ample opportunity to generate more contagious and/or more virulent strains.”