By Vatican News staff reporter
The European region passed the grim milestone on Friday of 1 million Coronavirus-related deaths, with no end in sight to halting the spread of the disease.
There are fears that new variants could once again overwhelm hospitals despite vaccination campaigns.
Since the pandemic began, over 37,220,000 infections and just over 1,000,000 deaths have been reported in the European region, which includes Russia, the United Kingdom, and the 27 members of the European Union.
To date there have been 550,000 Covid-related deaths in the EU and worryingly, less than a tenth of the population has been vaccinated.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has expressed her concern at the current situation saying, "We see the crest of a third wave forming in member states, and we know that we need to accelerate the vaccination rates."
Russia remains the worst affected European region country with over 4.4 million reported cases.
Italy became the third country in Europe to exceed more than 100,000 deaths last week. Prime Minister Mario Draghi warned that the situation would worsen again with a jump in hospitalizations.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country would have to apply an “emergency brake” to reverse some recent relaxations of pandemic restrictions as coronavirus infections accelerate.
France and Poland
Meanwhile, France and Poland are again coming to grips with partial lockdowns after a surge in infections. Millions of people in 16 areas of France, including Paris, are affected, while in Poland, non-essential shops, hotels and sporting facilities have closed their doors for three weeks.
With much of Europe paralyzed by the pandemic, the hospitality and airline industries are bracing themselves for another year of lost revenue due to a hampered vaccine rollout, a rise in Covid infections and new lockdowns.