Members of the armed forces at a mobile COVID-19 vaccination center outside Bolton Town Hall, Bolton, UK, where case numbers on the Delta variant, first identified in India, have been relatively high on 9 June 2021.
The World Health Organization’s European director warned that the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant, first identified in India, is “ready to address the region” as many countries prepare to ease restrictions and allow more social gatherings and travel across borders.
During a press conference on Thursday, WHO’s Dr. Hans Kluge that the variant, also known as the delta variant, has shown signs of being able to evade some vaccines and warned that many vulnerable populations, especially those over 60, remain unprotected.
“We have been here before,” warned Kluge, WHO’s European Regional Director. “Over the last summer, cases gradually increased in younger age groups and then moved into older age groups, contributing to a devastating resurgence,” he said. Kluge said the rise in COVID-19 ultimately led to more lockdowns and deaths in the fall and winter of 2020. “Let’s not make that mistake again.”
Kluge did not say that people should not travel, but urged all travelers to do it wisely. He also called for intensifying vaccination and other public health measures across the continent, saying that even vaccination coverage “is far from sufficient to protect the region.”