Around 700,000 people could die between now and spring from Covid-19 in Europe if the current contagion trend continues, the regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday.

WHO forecasts suggest that 25 countries in the European region -which includes 53 from this continent and Central Asia- risk suffering a lack of hospital beds and that 49 would reach a situation of high or extreme stress in ICUs between now and March.

"To live with this virus and go about our daily lives we need an approach that goes beyond the vaccine. That means receiving standard doses and a booster dose if offered, but also incorporating preventive measures into our routines."WHO-Europe director Hans Kluge said in a statement. Among them he mentions the use of masks indoors, hand hygiene, ventilation of spaces, keeping a distance or coughing into the elbow, what would help "avoid unnecessary tragedy and loss of life", in addition to limiting upheavals in society. The WHO also advocates combining these measures with public health interventions such as the implementation of the passport-covid, the isolation of those with symptoms, tests, tracing and quarantines. The European region remains under "the firm hold" of the pandemic, explains this organization: last week the number of daily deaths doubled to 4,200 and the 1.5 million deaths were exceeded since the beginning of the pandemic, which would increase to the 2.2 million accumulated in spring, according to current projections. According to the Institute for Health Indicators and Assessment, in charge of developing models for the WHO, Covid-19 is right now the leading cause of death in the European region. The high transmission of coronavirus is due to several factors: the dominance of the Delta variant, the lifting of restrictions, the drop in temperatures and the consequent increase in indoor meetings, and the large number of people not yet vaccinated.

More than 1 billion doses have been supplied in the region, in which 53.5% of the total population has completed the pattern, but that figure hides large differences between countries: while some do not reach 10%, others exceed 80%. Hence, the WHO recalls that vaccines are "vital" to prevent severe disease and deaths, and that it is necessary to increase immunization rates, taking into account that the evidence indicates that the protection they provide is declining.

"In this context, a booster dose should be given to the most vulnerable, including immunosuppressants., as a priority. Depending on the national context of dose availability and the Covid-19 epidemic, countries should also consider giving it to those over 60 and health personnel"says the WHO.

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