WHO’s European office has issued a warning over a possible second wave as the EU appears to disagree.
Rabat – The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of the risk of a second wave of COVID-19 infections in Europe, but EU officials appear to disagree.
The Director of WHO Europe, Hans Kluge, issued a warning of a likely second wave of COVID-19 in Europe on Monday. He highlighted a likely increase in cases in October and November, but EU officials downplayed the forecast.
“It’s going to get tougher. In October, November, we are going to see more mortality,” Kluge stated.
The head of WHO’s European office was aware that his message would not be received well by countries that are eager to return to normalcy. “It’s a moment where countries don’t want to hear this bad news, and I understand,” Kluge told AFP.
Kluge played down hopes that a potential COVID-19 vaccine could resolve the international health crisis.
“We don’t even know if the vaccine is going to help all population groups,” Kluge said, adding that “we are getting some signs now that it will help for one group and not for another.”
He said the crisis would end only when “we as a community are going to learn how to live with this pandemic.”
Kluge’s warning was not well received by the EU, which presented ambitious new plans and a €750 billion recovery fund on Monday and Tuesday.
Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni focused purely on the economy in his response to fears of a second wave of COVID-19. Gentiloni told DW that Europe is “not at the moment at serious risk of a serious second wave with lockdowns.”
Gentiloni said there was a strong willingness to cooperate and use the recovery fund wisely. The commissioner estimated the EU’s economy would reach pre-crisis levels by early 2022.
Economists and health experts have been increasingly at odds as economic actors want to create positive momentum for economic activity. Meanwhile, health experts warn of a possible second wave as citizens grow weary of COVID-19 measures and adherence wanes.
Amid the disagreements between experts, cases in Europe are once again on the rise.
On Friday, Europe recorded 51,000 cases, the highest number since the pandemic emerged, according to WHO.
France recorded 5,893 cases over the past 24 hours, with most cases detected in Paris. Spain recorded over 12,000 daily cases and authorities are increasingly worried about poor adherence to health measures.
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecasts have painted a dire picture of a likely second wave of COVID-19 that would eclipse the case number and death toll of the first wave.
The IHME predicts that Germany could see its death toll rise threefold from the current 9,296 to a staggering 32,583 in January if measures continue to ease.
If measures in France continue to ease, over a quarter of a million French citizens could die by January. Spain could see 170,551 deaths in the same period.
The IMHE predictions do provide some hope. If citizens take precautions and take the crisis seriously, hundreds of thousands of lives can be saved during the second wave of COVID-19. Spain could save over a hundred thousand lives themselves, France could save a staggering 185,000 lives, simply by wearing masks and taking precautions.