The World Health Organization said in its weekly epidemiological COVID-19 update that Europe again leads the world in the percentage of new cases and deaths from the disease.
The WHO said last week there was a 7% increase in the number of new cases in Europe and a 10% increase in the number of deaths. Africa was the only other region to report an increase in new cases.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday called an urgent meeting with state governors after the country’s Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases reported a record number of COVID-19 cases for a day.
Government spokesman Stephen Seibert told the DPA news agency that the disease is “spreading dramatically” and that a “quick and integrated response” is needed.
Seibert said Merkel was in talks with ministers, regional governments and potential future coalition parties.
The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, acknowledged the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Europe during a news briefing in Brussels on Wednesday. Spokesperson Dana Spinant described the situation as “complicated” and “rapidly changing”, adding that member states were discussing the next steps to be taken.
Bulgaria wants help
It was also announced on Wednesday that Bulgaria activated the European bloc’s civil protection mechanism, an emergency designation in which member states request assistance for disasters or other emergencies.
Bulgaria, which on Tuesday reported 334 COVID-19 patient deaths – the country’s highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic – requested oxygen equipment, patient monitors and hospital beds.
In the US, drugmaker Pfizer on Tuesday filed a request with the Food and Drug Administration to make booster shots of its COVID-19 vaccine available to all US adults 18 or older. The request referred to a new clinical trial involving 10,000 volunteers, each of whom received a third injection of a two-dose vaccine, developed in collaboration with Germany-based BioNTech. Pfizer said preliminary results showed that the third shot increased a person’s protection from the virus by about 95%.
The request comes weeks after the FDA and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine for Americans 65 and older, adults at high risk of serious illness, and teachers, health care workers and others. . whose jobs put them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
The Pfizer booster shot is available to people regardless of whether they initially received the two-shot Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which offers less protection than Pfizer or Moderna Vaccine.
Some information for this report has been received from the Associated Press and Reuters.