The worrying Covid-19 trends in Europe includes an increase in hospitalizations and people who are needing intensive care treatment, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for coronavirus.
The UK has doubled hospitalizations every eight days or so, Van Kerkhove said on CNN’s New Day on Friday, and there are parts of France that are reaching ICU capacity.
Given that the northern hemisphere hasn’t yet really hit autumn or winter or even started to hit the flu season, “we’re worried that these increasing numbers of hospitalizations and ICU are really going to overburden an already burdened system,” Van Kerkhove said.
“And again, this is really worrying, because as we hit the flu season, as we start to see other viruses circulating, respiratory viruses circulating, it’s very difficult to distinguish Covid from flu from other respiratory pathogens that are circulating,” she said. “And if the beds are full with Covid patients, it will be very challenging for the health care system to deal with other respiratory diseases.”
Flu vaccines will be key this year, she said.
“So we really need to see flu vaccination uptake increased across the northern hemisphere this year, especially this year,” she said. “Because we have a tool against flu, we don’t yet have that for Covid, but we have it for flu. And that will help, and it will particularly help vulnerable populations.”