The World Health Organization on Thursday announced that Europe could be facing over half a million COVID-19 deaths by February.

WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge told reporters that the current rate of transmission is of “grave concern,” adding that if “we stay on this trajectory,” 43 of 53 European countries could also see high or extreme stress on hospital beds.

“Today, every single country in our region is facing a real threat of COVID-19 resurgence or already fighting it,” Kluge said from their headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. "We are, once again, at the epicenter."

Kluge mentioned two reasons for the resurgence of COVID-19--- “insufficient vaccination coverage” and “the relaxation of public health and social measures.”

COVID-19 vaccinations rated in Europe are extremely staggered. Though 47% of people in the region completed a full vaccination series, only eight countries have full vaccination rates over 70% while two countries have rates below 10%, the WHO noted.

"Hospitalization rates in countries with low vaccine uptake are markedly higher and rising more quickly than in those with higher uptake," he said.

With 78 million cases in Europe, its cumulative toll now exceeds that of South East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean region, the Western Pacific, and Africa combined, AlJazeera reported.

WHO said Europe recorded a 6% rise in cases the past week, with cases in Russia and Germany reaching record levels of COVID cases. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s capital on Monday reinstated strict pandemic measures.

WHO and health experts continue to advocate for people to get vaccinated, wear masks and social distance in order to save the thousands of lives predicted to be lost this winter.

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