Europe surpasses 1 million COVID-19 deaths, WHO says

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A Torlak Institute’s employee waits for the visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

GENEVA (AP) — A top official from the World Health Organization says Europe has surpassed 1 million deaths from COVID-19 and 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, collectively at more than 1.1 million.

Addressing recent concerns about vaccines, Dr. Hans Kluge also said the risk of people suffering blood clots is far higher for people with COVID-19 than people who receive AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Greece, Kluge 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.

“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 WHO recommends its use for all eligible adults.

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