The WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge says that Europe can live with COVID-19 without a vaccine or wholesale lockdowns.
The Belgian, who was appointed to his role by the WHO Executive Board on 1 February this year, has said that the outbreak can be managed with localised lockdowns and that he doesn’t expect a return to national level restrictions.
“The day we are going to conquer the pandemic is not necessarily the vaccine. It is when we learn to live with the pandemic, and that can be tomorrow,” Kluge told Sky News as reported by Reuters. He also said that he doesn’t expect that wholesale lockdowns will be necessary to avoid a second wave of infections, when asked what kind of response he would be expecting in the coming months.
“I’m optimistic, but we cannot exclude localised lockdowns,” he said.
Europe was one of the worst affected regions in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, with Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom being hit the hardest. However, the rate of infection slowed significantly to the point where lockdown restrictions were eased and even international travel within EU borders has resumed. However, despite a rise in cases after lockdown restrictions were partially lifted, the various nations in the continent’s healthcare systems have managed to handle the influx of patients. As of yesterday, there are just over a million active cases on the entire continent and most nations have seen their cumulative cases curves flatten – with the notable exception of Russia, whose total cases now exceed one million infections.
It remains to be seen whether the strategy in Europe proves effective in terms of both healthcare and economic outcomes, but Kluge’s predictions seem to shed light on what is to come for developed nations around the world.
Out of 25 million cases of coronavirus around the world, the European continent accounts for ±3,589,467 (±14%), which includes Russia’s 1,000,048 cases. The population of Europe is estimated to be ±747,714,389 (±10% of the global population).