The World Health Organization expressed “grave concern” Thursday over the rising pace of coronavirus infections in Europe, as Germany registered its biggest daily increase since the start of the pandemic.

“We are, once again, at the epicenter,” WHO Europe director Hans Kluge told a press conference.

He warned that according to “one reliable projection” the current trajectory would mean “another half a million Covid 19 deaths” by February. Alarm bells were ringing especially in Germany, the European Union’s most populous country, where the number of new cases over the past 24 hours soured to almost 34,000 on Thursday-an all time high, according to the Robert Koch Institute Health agency.

Meanwhile Britain on Thursday became the first country in the world to approve the use of Merck’s anti Covid pill to treat patients suffering from mild to moderate coronavirus infections.

Health Minister Sajid Javid called the Molnupiravir antiviral “game-changer for the most vulnerable and immunosuppressed”.

WHO blamed a combination of insufficient vaccination rates and a relaxation of preventative measures like mask-wearing and social distancing. AFP

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