WHO Warns Delta Variant Taking Hold in Europe

The organization's regional director said the Covid variant has shown signs of being able to evade some vaccines.

The World Health Organization’s Europe director warned that the highly transmissible Covid-19 variant first identified in India is “poised to take hold in the region,” as many countries prepare to ease restrictions and allow more social gatherings and travel across borders.

During a press briefing on Thursday, WHO’s Dr. Hans Kluge said the variant, also known as the delta variant, has shown signs of being able to evade some vaccines; he warned that many vulnerable populations, particularly those over age 60, remain unprotected.

“We have been here before,” warned Kluge, WHO’s European regional director. “Over the course of last summer, cases gradually rose in younger age groups and then moved into older age groups, contributing to a devastating resurgence,” he said. That spike in Covid-19 ultimately led to more lockdowns and deaths in the fall and winter of 2020, he added. “Let’s not make that mistake again.”

Kluge didn’t say people shouldn’t travel, but urged any travelers to do so wisely. He also called for vaccinations and other public-health measures to be stepped up across the continent, saying even immunization coverage “is far from sufficient to protect the region.”

Read how countries and international destinations are adjusting their Covid-19 restrictions in our roundup of the latest updates throughout the world. We are also regularly updating restriction changes for the United States.