A World Health Organisation special envoy on COVID-19 is predicting a third wave of the pandemic in Europe in early 2021, if governments fail to take needed action.
“They missed building up the necessary infrastructure during the summer months, after they brought the first wave under the control,” the WHO’s David Nabarro has told Swiss newspapers.
“Now we have the second wave. If they don’t build the necessary infrastructure, we’ll have a third wave early next year,” said Dr Nabarro, a Briton who campaigned unsuccessfully to become WHO director general in 2017.
Europe briefly enjoyed sinking infection rates that are now surging again: In Germany and France on Saturday, cases rose by 33,000 combined, Switzerland and Austria have thousands of cases daily, while Turkey reported a record 5532 new infections.
Learn what scientists look for in the different phases of a clinical trial for a #COVID19 vaccine. What does it mean when a vaccine trial is halted due to an adverse event? @Kate_L_OBrien explains in #ScienceIn5 ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/JXqPxcCBtS
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 22, 2020
Dr Nabarro singled out Switzerland’s move to allow skiing – with masks required in gondolas – even while other alpine nations such as Austria have kept resorts closed.
Dr Nabarro said Switzerland could reach a “very high level of sicknesses and deaths”.
“Once the infection rates sink, and they will sink, then we can be as free as we want,” Dr Nabarro was quoted as saying by the Solothurner Zeitung.
“But right now? Should ski resorts open? Under what conditions?”
Dr Nabarro lauded the response of Asian countries such as South Korea, where infections are relatively low: “People are fully engaged, they take on behaviours that make it difficult for the virus.”
“They keep their distance, wear masks, isolate when they’re sick, wash hands and surfaces. They protect the most endangered groups.”
Dr Nabarro also said Asia did not relax restrictions prematurely.
“You must wait until case numbers are low and stay low,” he said.
“Europe’s reaction was incomplete.”