Covid deaths top 1.5 million across Europe

Europe reached the grim milestone of 1.5 million coronavirus deaths on Thursday, as nations scramble to deal with a worsening crisis with winter looming large.

In response, France accelerated its COVID booster rollout and Germany weighed in on the new measures, with fatalities and infections rising.

The world is ready for the full onslaught of another wave, with the European Union’s medicine agency approving a vaccine for children under the age of five.

But after South Africa reported a new worrying Covid-19 variant with devastating potential, the European Union’s medicine agency approved a vaccine for children under the age of five.

In Paris, Health Minister Olivier Veran said COVID-19 booster shots, so far only available to people over 65 or with health problems, will be available to all adults starting this weekend.

From January 15, people over the age of 18 must show proof of a top-up vaccine dose to maintain a valid COVID pass, which is required to enter restaurants, bars, gyms and other public places.

The minister said the stringent measures could see France through a fifth wave without another lockdown, which the government is desperately trying to avoid.

Adding to the pressure, the EU Commission recommended that the bloc’s vaccination certificate should become invalid if the holder’s latest dose is more than nine months old.

– ‘Serious milestone’ – The number of daily new cases in France reached a seven-month high of 32,591 on Wednesday, but the burden of serious cases in hospital remains manageable – a fact experts put into France’s vigorous vaccination campaign Gave.

Neighboring Germany meanwhile reported record coronavirus fatalities and infections on Thursday as its total death toll exceeded 100,000 – a “grave milestone”, Bild said daily – as a new government replaces Angela Merkel’s coalition ready to change.

Europe’s largest economy recorded 351 Covid deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll since the start of the pandemic to 100,119.

The weekly incidence rate also reached an all-time high of 419.7 new infections per 100,000 people, according to the Robert Koch Institute health agency.

The spike in Germany came as Europe re-emerged as the epicenter of the pandemic, the continent battling sluggish vaccines in some countries, the highly infectious Delta variant, colder weather sending people indoors and easing restrictions.

An AFP tally of official figures showed on Thursday that more than 1.5 million people have died from Covid-19 in Europe.

Merkel’s successor, Olaf Scholz, on Wednesday outlined a roadmap for overcoming the fourth wave by announcing new measures.

These included the formation of a Corona Response Task Force based on his office and bonuses for overcrowded healthcare workers.

However, the move announced last week to limit non-vaccinated people from participating in public life has already come under fire.

“The latest decisions are like declaring in a flood disaster and announcing plans to hire more swimming teachers and distribute some water fins and rubber ducks,” Suedeutsche newspaper said angrily.

– ‘Acute overload’ – the German health sector has had to call on hospitals elsewhere in the EU for help. According to Gernot Marx, head of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, some clinics are already facing “acute overload”.

Germany last week began requiring people to prove they have been vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 or have recently tested negative before traveling on public transport or entering workplaces.

Many of the worst-affected areas have gone ahead, with the cancellation of Christmas markets and the exclusion of immunizations from bars, gyms and leisure facilities.

Germany’s COVID-19 crisis has been blamed on a relatively low vaccination rate of around 69 percent compared to other Western European countries such as France, where it stands at 75 percent.

An operation for booster shots has been hit by supply and logistics glitches.

In a sign of what is to come, South African scientists on Thursday said they have detected a new Covid-19 variant with multiple mutations, which it attributes to the increase in infection numbers.

The variant, which goes by scientific lineage number B.1.1.529, “has a very high number of mutations,” said virologist Tulio de Oliveira.

The version for Health Minister Joe Fahla was of “grave concern” and was behind an “exponential” increase in cases.

Back in Europe, the Pfizer/BioNTech jab got the green light for children aged five to 11, paving the way for vaccinations in an age group where the virus is spreading rapidly, and the EU to the US, Israel and the United States. Canada.

Using the brand name of JAB, the European Medicines Agency said “the benefits of Komirnati outweigh the risks” in children aged five to 11 years.

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