WHO Warns Coronavirus Spreading Again in Europe at 'Alarming Rates'


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The World Health Organization warned Thursday that the coronavirus has started to spread again across Europe at "alarming rates" and should serve as a "wake-up" call to European governments.

The European head of WHO, Dr. Hans Kluge, said during a virtual news conference from Copenhagen that the faster rate of transmission was among people between the ages of 25 and 49. WHO noted that infections were also rising faster among older people.

Kluge said the spikes in infections represent more widespread testing, but they also show "alarming rates of transmission across the region."

Kluge warned European countries against shortening quarantine periods and urged them to adopt a coherent strategy to contain the spread of the virus, which he said has proven to be most deadly "whenever partisanship and disinformation prevailed."

"Where the pandemic goes from here is in our hands," he declared. "We have fought back before, and we can fight back again."

In the U.S., data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week reveal that members of minorities younger than 21 years old are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 compared with white Americans in the same age group.

A further breakdown of the numbers shows that Hispanic children made up 44% of the fatalities and Black children made up 29%, compared to 14% being white children. American Indian and Alaska Natives accounted for 4% of COVID-19 deaths, with Asian and Pacific Islanders making up the same amount.

The CDC report also found that 75% of those who died had at least one underlying health condition, such as asthma, obesity, neurologic and developmental conditions or cardiovascular conditions. Researchers pointed out that certain social conditions, including crowded living conditions, food and housing insecurity, and wealth and education gaps, could be contributing factors in the high fatality rates among minority children.

The CDC on Wednesday outlined details of a plan to begin distributing a vaccine within 24 hours of official approval. Under the plan, the drug would be distributed once the Food and Drug Administration authorized either an emergency use order or full formal approval, and would likely be administered first to essential personnel such as health care workers.

The agency said the vaccine would be administered free of charge for all Americans once it becomes widely available.

The announcement of the plan came on the same day President Donald Trump contradicted CDC Director Robert Redfield on when Americans would get a reliable COVID-19 vaccine. Redfield told a Senate committee that a vaccine could be generally available to the American public in the second or third quarter of next year with those most at risk, such as the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions, to be prioritized for vaccination.

However, in a news conference hours later, Trump made clear he did not like Redfield expressing a more cautious timeline. "I think he made a mistake when he said that. That's just incorrect information," Trump told reporters. "Under no circumstance will it be as late as the doctor said."