'This is of grave concern': WHO issues new warning over spread of virus across Europe

A woman wearing a protective mask is seen through a glass at a shopping centre on the day Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza lays out in parliament the government's plan for mass coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccinations and restrictions over the Christmas period, in Rome, Italy December 2, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a new warning about the spread of coronavirus across Europe, saying it is "of grave concern".

Dr Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe at the WHO, warned that while infection rates are decreasing in Western Europe, the picture across the continent as a whole is more worrying.

"The resurgence is moving eastward with the hardest hit countries now in central and southern Europe," he said.

"These reports are of grave concern; a stark reminder of the fact that the vast majority of us remain susceptible to the virus."

Dr Kluge said there have been more than 19 million cases of Covid-19 in Europe, with more than four million in November alone.

He said despite a decline in new cases for the third consecutive week, the continent still accounts for 40% of new global cases and 50% of new global deaths, with almost half of the countries within the region continue to show an increasing trend.

"In week 48 alone, over 35,000 new deaths were reported from across the region," he said.

He called for countries who have seen a drop in infection rates to "use this time wisely" to prepare for future spikes.

"This is a time for responsible leadership," he said. "To those countries seeing a decline in transmission, use this time wisely. Consider scaling-up the public health infrastructure and preparing for the next surge, ask what can be improved to help us manage better in the future

"The virus still has the potential to do enormous damage unless we do everything in our power to stop its spread. And part of the solution will be vaccination."

103 PHOTOS
Coronavirus across the globe
See Gallery
Coronavirus across the globe
SHIJIAZHUANG, CHINA - JANUARY 20: Ice is seen on a medical worker's protective shield as she carries out nucleic acid testing on residents on January 20, 2021 in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province of China. (Photo by Ren Quanjun/VCG via Getty Images)
A Palestinians girl walks past a coronavirus awareness mural in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on January 20, 2021. (Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - 2021/01/20: A health worker is seen wearing a protective suit as a preventative measure against COVID-19 as she travels to test patients with Covid19 symptoms. Contact tracking teams continue to combat Covid19 through tracking the movement of patients diagnosed with the novel coronavirus using their smartphones to prevent further infections. A team affiliated to the Ottoman Public Health center traces COVID-19 patients in various parts of the city throughout the day. (Photo by Tunahan Turhan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Demonstrators wearing white costums and masks perform during a protest against the novel coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions at the Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria on January 16, 2021. (Photo by GEORG HOCHMUTH / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo by GEORG HOCHMUTH/APA/AFP via Getty Images)
Visitors wear masks as they visit the iconic Yellow Crane Tower, a popular tourist site in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Couples go on dates, families dine out at restaurants, shoppers flock to stores. Face masks aside, people are going about their daily life pretty much as before in the Chinese city that was first hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A health worker prepares to administer COVID-19 vaccine to a doctor at a government Hospital in Jammu, India, Saturday, Jan.16, 2021. India started inoculating health workers Saturday in what is likely the world's largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign, joining the ranks of wealthier nations where the effort is already well underway.(AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Healthcare workers and military prepare to board a COVID-19 patient onto an air force plane, at the Ponta Pelada Airport, in Manaus, Amazonas state, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Some hope for Manaus, an isolated city of 2 million people, landed in a Brazilian air force plane on Friday with 6,000 liters of oxygen that are being distributed to hospitals. But as the pandemic hits hard, locals wonder how long the supply will last. (AP Photo/Edmar Barros)
A health worker shows COVID-19 vaccines at a government Hospital in Gauhati, India, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. India started inoculating health workers Saturday in what is likely the world's largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign, joining the ranks of wealthier nations where the effort is already well underway. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
Family members watch as City of Tshwane's Special Infection Unit paramedic pushes a man showing symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus inside the isolation chamber equipped with a negative pressure filtration system from his home in the north of Pretoria, South Africa, on January 15, 2021. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP) (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)
A man wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus disease walks past a graffiti in the town of Klimovsk some 40 km outside Moscow on January 15, 2021. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP) (Photo by YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images)
People walk past trams in Lisbon on January 15, 2021 as Portugal entered a fresh lockdown over a surge in coronavirus cases. - The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,994,833 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP) (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers administer the first phase of the coronavirus vaccine at the Kramat Jati Health Center, Jakarta, on January 14,2021. (Photo by Dasril Roszandi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13: Members of the National Guard sleep in the halls of Capitol Hill as the House of Representativs convene to impeach President Donald Trump, nearly a week after a pro-Trump insurrectionist mob breached the security of the nations capitol while Congress voted to certify the 2020 Election Results on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
BEIRUT, LEBANON - JANUARY 13:  A Lebanese person with COVID-19 symptoms is checked by doctors and nurses inside the fever clinic of Saint George Hospital on January 13, 2021 in Beirut, Lebanon. Overwhelmed hospitals in Lebanon have been forced to treat COVID-19 patients in cars and improvised rooms. The country is introducing an 11-day, 24-hour curfew that confines people to their homes with limited exceptions. Residents will even be banned from going to the grocery store. (Photo by Diego Ibarra Sanchez/Getty Images)
KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - JANUARY 13, 2021: People in face coverings walk in the street in winter. Vitaly Nevar/TASS (Photo by Vitaly Nevar\TASS via Getty Images)
Members of Plates and Fitness Business Association bow during a rally demanding the government to allow the reopening of their businesses amid tightened social distancing rules against the pandemic in front of the ruling Democratic Party headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday said the government will offer COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone free of charge in phased steps. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Thai classical dancers wearing face shields to help curb the spread of the coronavirus perform at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. Thailand's government announced new measures, including partial lockdowns with strict travel restrictions in some areas. Schools, bars, gambling parlors and other public gathering places have been closed. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Workers of US automaker Ford attend a protest in front of the Ford manufacturing plant in Camacari, Bahia state, Brazil on January 12, 2021. - Carmaker Ford said Monday losses exacerbated by the coronavirus epidemic would see it close its three factories in Brazil, where it has operated for a century, terminating some 5,000 jobs. (Photo by RAFAEL MARTINS / AFP) (Photo by RAFAEL MARTINS/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker in a booth takes nasal samples from a man at a coronavirus testing site in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Young Catholic devotees wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus stand try to get a glimpse of the the Black Nazarene at the Santa Cruz Church in Manila, Philippines a day before it's feast day on Friday Jan. 8, 2021. The annual Jan. 9 procession attended by tens of thousands of devotees has been cancelled amid the threat of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in one of Asia's biggest religious events. Several Black Nazarene replicas have been placed around churches as the government asks devotees to pray at their communities instead of going to downtown Quiapo where the original image stays. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
A paramedic rests behind his ambulance, as ambulance staff wait hours for the COVID-19 patients they are transporting to be admitted, at Siglo XXI Medical Center in Mexico City, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A line of five ambulances spent hours outside the hospital Thursday afternoon waiting for their patients to be admitted, as hospitals in the capital near full capacity amid an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases in Mexico.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
A saint waiting for result of his COVID test at COVID testing center at Kolkata Gangasagar camp ground.West Bengal health department set up a COVID testing center at Kolkata transit camp grounds of Gangasagar , to perform Rapid antigen test on arriving Saints and devotees who would be going to Sagar island for the holy day of Makar Sankranti on 14th of January 2021. (Photo by Debarchan Chatterjee/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JANUARY 09: A sculpture of Munir Nurettin Selcuk wears maks as Kalamis and its surroundings remain empty after a general curfew imposed weekend-long from Friday 9 p.m. to Monday 5 a.m. local time within new measures against a second wave of the (coronavirus) COVID-19 pandemic, in Istanbul, Turkey on January 9, 2021. (Photo by Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Participants sit with social distancing as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus during a coming-of-age ceremony in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture on January 9, 2021. (Photo by STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo by STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)
People wearing face masks wait to receive a coronavirus vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Jerusalem, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Backdropped by the Gibraltar rock, people walk along the stalls of a weekly market at the Spanish city of La Linea on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Fears of disruptions following Britain's departure from the European Union were replaced by coronavirus-related restrictions on border traffic between Spain and Gibraltar on Monday, the first working day at the United Kingdom's only land border with the European mainland. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A man looks at a countdown calendar showing 200 day to start Tokyo 2020 Olympics Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Tokyo. The countdown clock for the postponed Tokyo Olympics hit 200 days to go on Monday. Also on Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he would consider calling a state of emergency as new coronavirus cases surge to record numbers in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A worker sprays pesticide to kill mosquito at a Old tyre recycling workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Monday, January 04,2021. (Photo by Syed Mahamudur Rahman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
An Indian barber volunteering his services to the protesting farmers shaves a farmer as they block a highway in protest against new farm laws at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh state border, India, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Ignoring the coronavirus pandemic, the farmers have been blockading highways connecting New Delhi to northern India for nearly five weeks, obstructing transportation and dealing a blow to manufacturing and businesses in the north. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
A health worker in a protective suit taking a blood sample during a massive coronavirus antigen testing for teachers and education workers on January 04, 2021 in Granada, Spain. (Photo by Álex Cámara/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Healthcare workers treat patients infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, U.S., December 28, 2020. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A Palestinian vendor sells toys at the beach amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Gaza City December 30, 2020. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People seen during a candlelit vigil and protest in Dublin city center for George Nkencho. Mr Nkencho was shot multiple times by Gardai (Irish Police) outside his home in Clonee, West Dublin, on Wednesday 30 December. He reportedly branded a knife and threatened the gardai before being shot by members of the Blanchardstown Garda armed support unit. On Friday, January 1, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
SHINMEI SHRINE, TOKYO, JAPAN - 2021/01/01: Women wearing masks as a preventive measure against the spread of covid-19 take a selfie at the Shinmei Shrine. As Covid-19 coronavirus infections continue, Japanese authorities have urged people to avoid gathering in large numbers as they celebrate the New Year. (Photo by Viola Kam/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Tourists visit historical Amer Fort on the 1st day of New Year 2021, in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. (Photo by Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 31: A view of Piazza Duomo on December 31, 2020 in Milan, Italy. Italy is in red zone and curfew by 10 PM and has banned travel and midnight mass during the Christmas and New Years period as the daily coronavirus death toll continues to rise. (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - DECEMBER 31: Shirley Azedias, a self employed housekeeper prays during the ritual celebration in honor of Yemanja the Goddess of the Sea on New Year's Eve at Flamengo beach on December 31, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The city of Rio de Janeiro decided to close the beaches to avoid crowds due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Sound equipment, car parking, beach vendors and fireworks are prohibited on the shore at the turn of the year. About 10,000 military police officers and teams from the Municipal Guard will act to maintain order. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 1: A couple are seen kissing as they bring in the New Year at Federation Square during New Year's Eve celebrations on January 1, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Celebrations look different this year as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 01: A fireworks display over the Sydney Opera House during New Year's Eve celebrations on January 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Celebrations look different this year as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Wendell Teodoro/Getty Images)
Pedestrians shop in advance of a new coronavirus lockdown in Dublin on December 31, 2020. - Ireland announced tightening of coronavirus restrictions for at least a month, as Prime Minister Micheal Martin warned infection rates were growing "exponentially". (Photo by PAUL FAITH / AFP) (Photo by PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - DECEMBER 31: An elderly woman wearing face mask and shield is seen as medical workers prepare Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines at an elderly home in Ramat Aviv Neighborhood in Tel Aviv Israel on December 31, 2020. (Photo by Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 31: People take photos near new year decorations at Taksim square ahead of a general curfew, which will be imposed from December 31 on 9 p.m. to January 4 on 5 a.m. within new measures against a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Istanbul, Turkey on December 31, 2020. (Photo by Ahmet Bolat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
29 December 2020, Hamburg: A young woman receives a fictitious vaccination as a test vaccinee during a trial run of the Hamburg Corona Vaccination Centre. Photo: Markus Scholz/dpa (Photo by Markus Scholz/picture alliance via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A patient with the COVID-19 breaths in oxygen in the COVID-19 ward at Khayelitsha Hospital, about 35km from the centre of Cape Town, on December 29, 2020. - The patents in this ward are not critically serious, but do require oxygen and to lie down. South Africa has become the first African nation to record one million coronavirus cases, according to new data published by the country's health ministry on December 27, 2020. Currently suffering a second wave of infections, of which the majority are a new variant of the coronavirus, South Africa is the hardest hit country on the African continent. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP) (Photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images)
Poland's Kamil Stoch soars through the air during a training of the Four-Hills Ski Jumping tournament (Vierschanzentournee), in Oberstdorf, southern Germany, on December 29, 2020. - The first event of the Four Hills Ski jumping competition takes place in Oberstdorf, before the tournament continues in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, (Germany), in Innsbruck (Austria) and in Bischofshofen (Austria). This year, the tour will take place without spectators due to the ongoing coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images)
QUILMES, ARGENTINA - DECEMBER 29: Health workers applaud a nurse as she arrives with the first dose of 'Gam-COVID-Vac' also known as Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus at Isidoro Iriarte Hospital on December 29, 2020 in Quilmes, Argentina. Argentine government begins today the campaign to apply the first 300,000 doses that arrived from Russia. (Photo by Marcos Brindicci/Getty Images)
People seen wearing protected mask in the center of Athens, Greece on December 29, 2020 during the second COVID-19 lockdown in Greece. (Photo by Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Nurses prepare syringes with the COVID-19 vaccine at La Bonne Maison de Bouzanton care home in Mons, Belgium, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. The vaccine, developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, was transported from a hospital in Leuven to the residential care home on Monday, as Belgium begins its vaccination program starting with the most vulnerable. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, Pool)
Pro-government Sri Lankan Buddhist monks hold placards during a protest outside president’s office asking the government not to review the policy for mandatory cremation of Muslim COVID-19 victims, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. Sri Lanka’s minority Muslim community has started a campaign against the policy announced by the government in March and are demanding burial rights for Muslims who die of the disease. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Workers wearing protective gears disinfect chairs as a precaution against the coronavirus at the arrival hall of the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. South Korea has confirmed its first cases of a more contagious variant of COVID-19 that was first identified in the United Kingdom. (Kim Sun-woong/Newsis via AP)
Carer Monica Tapias (L), 48, talks with Araceli Hidalgo, 96, a resident of Los Olmos nursing home for the elderly, after receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on December 27, 2020, in Guadalajara, becoming the first two persons vaccinated against coronavirus in Spain. - Araceli Rosario Hidalgo Sanchez, a 96-year-old living in a care home in central Spain became the first person in the country to be vaccinated against Covid-19 today, in an event broadcasted by national television. Carer Monica Tapias followed as the second Spaniard to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. (Photo by Pepe Zamora / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PEPE ZAMORA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Doctor Agnieszka Szarowska vaccines Slawomir Butkiewicz, member of rescue team against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) on December 27, 2020 in in Warsaw, Poland. The European Union began a vaccine rollout, even as countries in the bloc were forced back into lockdown by a new strain of the virus, believed to be more infectious, that continues to spread from Britain. The pandemic has claimed more than 1.7 million lives and is still running rampant in much of the world, but the recent launching of innoculation campaigns has boosted hopes that 2021 could bring a respite. - The European Union began a vaccine rollout, even as countries in the bloc were forced back into lockdown by a new strain of the virus, believed to be more infectious, that continues to spread from Britain. The pandemic has claimed more than 1.7 million lives and is still running rampant in much of the world, but the recent launching of innoculation campaigns has boosted hopes that 2021 could bring a respite. (Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 26: Tourists, exempt from the curfew implementation, pose for a photo with a heart-shaped illumination at Salacak coastline in Uskudar district after a general weekend-long curfew imposed from Friday 9 p.m. to Monday 5 a.m. local time within new measures against a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Istanbul, Turkey on December 26, 2020. (Photo by Esra Bilgin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
REINHEIM, GERMANY - DECEMBER 27: Red Cross members carry the vaccination to a home for the elderly on the first day of the nationwide launch of Covid-19 vaccinations during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic on December 27, 2020 in Moudautal-Asbach near Reinheim. Germany. Germany is beginning the vaccinations today mainly with mobile teams who are inoculating senior citizens in nursing homes. The volume of delivered vaccine is to rise sharply next week and many mass vaccination centers will open their doors in early January. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 26: Shoppers wearing face masks ride an escalator as they exit the Myer store located in the Pitt Street Mall during the Boxing Day sales on December 26, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Australians celebrate Boxing Day with many taking advantage of the post-Christmas sale prices in what is usually the busiest day of the year for retailers in Australia. Extra safety protocols have been introduced this year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In Sydney, thousands of people usually gather around and on the harbour to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. This year's race was cancelled for the first time in its 76 year history due to the current COVID-19 cluster outbreak in NSW. (Photo by David Gray/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 26: Shoppers line up outside Zara at Chadstone The Fashion Capital during the Boxing Day sales on December 26, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Australians celebrate Boxing Day with many taking advantage of the post-Christmas sale prices in what is usually the busiest day of the year for retailers in Australia. Extra safety protocols have been introduced this year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Naomi Rahim/Getty Images)
A general view of Christmas Tree by Coca Cola in Piazza Duomo on December 22, 2020 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Alessandro Bremec/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 25: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) A medical staff member Susan Paradela cleans aa patient's mouth in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) on Christmas Day at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 25, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, Texas has reached over 1,660,000 cases, including over 26,800 deaths. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Volunteers spray disinfectant in the main hall of St Paul's Parish in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, ahead of Christmas celebrations, in Karachi, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
People wait to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a private nursing home, in Ganei Tikva, Israel, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Students wearing face masks as a precaution against coronavirus wait for their turn to perform during a ballet class at Rumah Karya Sjuman Art School in Tangerang, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Indonesia has reported more than 600,000 cases of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
Students wearing face masks as a precaution against coronavirus outbreak practice their moves during a ballet class at Rumah Karya Sjuman Art School in Tangerang, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Indonesia has reported more than 600,000 cases of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are moved to the loading dock for shipping at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, Pool)
El rabino Yisrael Meir Lau recibe una vacuna contra el coronavirus en el hospital Ichilov en Tel Aviv, Israel, el domingo 20 de diciembre de 2020. (AP Foto/Ariel Schalit)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 20, 2020: Citizens wear face masks at the Kolomenskoye Museum Reserve, southeastern Moscow. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)
A Palestinian wearing a Santa Claus beard and hat rings a bell outside the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on December 20, 2020 after it was re-opened for prayers following strict COVID-19 restrtictions. (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP) (Photo by HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images)
Robert Burck, better known as the "Naked Cowboy", falls during a nor'easter storm snowfall amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People walk past a Christmas tree in the centre of Lausanne on December 17, 2020. - Switzerland, which is failing to control the Covid-19 epidemic with the highest contamination rates in Europe, is awaiting new lockdowns decisions after a meeting of Swiss government on 18, 2020. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks via video call during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. This year, Putin attended his annual news conference online due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Two women wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus, walk past a graffiti message in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. Some of Spain's regions are tightening health restrictions for the Christmas holidays with new COVID-19 cases already on the rise again. (AP Photo/Paul White)
A illuminated Snowman stands in the deserted entrance of the 'Mall of Berlin' shopping center late afternoon in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Germany has entered a harder lockdown, closing most of shops shops and schools in an effort to bring down stubbornly high new cases of the coronavirus.(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Street dancers wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus dance the tango in downtown Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. One in ten residents in Spain had been infected by the coronavirus by mid-November and almost half that contagion occurred during the summer resurgence of outbreaks according to preliminary results of an official survey on the presence of antibodies. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
The 16 bronze children surrounding the statue Nilen, (the Nile) are decorated with face masks in Copenhagen, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Each year the children are decorated with red elves hats during the Christmas period, this year they also included face masks as a nod to the coronavirus pandemic. (Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)
A Sri Lankan Health worker in protective suits gets sprayed with disinfectants after taking swab samples from people for COVID-19 tests at Colombo, Sri Lanka. 15 December 2020. According to Sri Lankan Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka have recorded 33478 Covid-19 positive cases with 154 deaths related to Covid-19 by 14 December 2020. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 15: An artist dressed as a clown from the cultural sector attends a demonstration in front of the Opera Bastille to protest against the measures of the cessation of his activities by the government during the epidemic of coronavirus (COVID -19) on December 15, 2020 in Paris, France. The cultural sector, which includes theaters, cinemas, concerts and museums, is qualified as non-essential and must remain closed to the public at least until the beginning of January 2021, without commitment on the date of reopening under the protocol French to fight against the Covid-19 epidemic. (Photo by Chesnot / Getty Images)
People during Christmas shopping in the first day of Lombardy in yellow zone During The Covid-19 Pandemic, Milan, Italy, on December 13 2020. After months in the red and orange zone, Milano on 13th December, returns to the yellow zone. Bars, restaurants, pizzerias open until 10pm, and citizens can move freely in neighboring municipalities and yellow regions (Photo by Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
TIRANA, ALBANIA - DECEMBER 13: Police officers take measures at the Skanderbeg Square, on the fifth day of protests over the police shooting of Klodian Rasha, who breached coronavirus (COVID-19) curfew, in Tirana, Albania on December 13, 2020. Protests have been continuing for four days amid curfew which forbids gathering more than 10. Many of the angry demonstrators threw stones and flares at police as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters. (Photo by Olsi Shehu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
People during Christmas shopping in the first day of Lombardy in yellow zone During The Covid-19 Pandemic, Milan, Italy, on December 13 2020. After months in the red and orange zone, Milano on 13th December, returns to the yellow zone. Bars, restaurants, pizzerias open until 10pm, and citizens can move freely in neighboring municipalities and yellow regions (Photo by Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
CIRIE', ITALY - DECEMBER 13: A woman wearing a protective mask takes a selfie in front of the Christmas Light installation in the shape of a gift box on December 13, 2020 in Ciriè, Italy. While decorations go up to celebrate the holiday season, Italy has banned travel and midnight mass during the Christmas and New Years period as the daily coronavirus death toll continues to rise. (Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)
13 December 2020, Saxony, Leipzig: Cops are standing on a street in the Connewitz district. In the course of a leftist demonstration, policemen were thrown objects at them. Photo: Sebastian Willnow/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa (Photo by Sebastian Willnow/picture alliance via Getty Images)
12 December 2020, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: A police officer talks to a person during a traffic control to comply with corona-related exit restrictions. Exit restrictions have been in force in Baden-Württemberg since 12 December 2020. It is now only possible to stay in public places with a valid reason. In the time between 20 and 5 pm the rules are stricter. Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa (Photo by Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON- DECEMBER 12 - Anti-lockdown, anti-mask, anti-vaccination, and anti-5G protesters gather at Yonge-Dundas Square as Toronto is in stricter restrictions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto. December 12, 2020. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
NAPLES, CAMPANIA, ITALY - 2020/12/12: People wear face masks after the southern Italian region of Campania made it mandatory to wear protective face coverings outdoors 24 hours a day, to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Cyclists wear face masks due to Covid-19 restrictions as people gather to play volleyball outdoors on the beach in Manhattan Beach, California, December 12, 2020. - According to California health officials, ICU bed capacity in the Southern California region has dropped to 5.3% as more restrictive orders are imposed to prevent hospitals from being overrun. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus disease walks past a graffiti in central Moscow on December 11, 2020. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP) (Photo by YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images)
ANTALYA, TURKEY - DECEMBER 11: A view from Akdeniz University Hospital as health workers are on their duty, in Antalya, Turkey on December 11, 2020. In Antalya, novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures were increased after increasing in COVID-19 cases. The number of filiations, which was 500, was increased to 550 by the Provincial Directorate of Health, and the Covid-19 intensive care bed was increased from 23 to 30 in the hospital. (Photo by Mustafa Ciftci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
HARBIN, Dec. 11, 2020 -- A girl receives nucleic acid test for the prevention of COVID-19 pandemic in Suifenhe City, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Dec. 11, 2020. One new confirmed COVID-19 case was reported in the city of Suifenhe, authorities said Thursday. (Photo by Xu Kaixin/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Xu Kaixin via Getty Images)
YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 11, 2020: A medical worker receives an injection of Gam-COVID-Vac (marketed as Sputnik V) during COVID-19 vaccination at Sverdlovsk Regional Hospital No 2. Donat Sorokin/TASS (Photo by Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images)
An Iraqi man, wearing a protective mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walks past a Santa Claus figure displayed outside a shop in Baghdad's Tahrir (Liberation) Square, on December 11, 2020. (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP) (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - 2020/12/07: A man wearing a face mask as a protective measure against the spread coronavirus (COVID-19) walks past a placard saying There is no Safety Zone, We must stop before COVID-19 stop everything. 615 coronavirus cases were confirmed by Korea Centers for Disease Control (KCDC) on 7 December. (Photo by Simon Shin/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A woman wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus passes by wall mural of a shopping center in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. South Korea's health minister said Monday that the Seoul metropolitan area is now a "COVID-19 war zone," as the country reported another 615 new infections and the virus appeared to be spreading faster. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A picture taken on December 7, 2020 on the Malieveld, in The Hague shows shirts of amateur clubs displayed on the grass during a demonstration called by the KNVB sports association to draw the government attention on the amateur football practice amidst the new coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Sem van der Wal / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT (Photo by SEM VAN DER WAL/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 07: The South Africa Team bus is pictures outside of the Vinyard Hotel where the South Africa and England Cricket Teams are currently staying after an announcement that the Cricket Tour between the two teams has been abandoned following a series of Positive Coronavirus Tests on December 07, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 7, 2020: People on swings in Triumfalnaya Square in central Moscow during the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Sergei Karpukhin/TASS (Photo by Sergei Karpukhin\TASS via Getty Images)
Workers shovel soil over a coffin during a funeral ceremony for a person who died of COVID-19, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Greece is on lockdown until Dec. 7 but government officials say it is too early to say when schools and businesses will reopen due to continued pressure on the state-run health service, with intensive care wards near capacity in parts of the country. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Russian medical worker, right, administers a shot of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Thousands of doctors, teachers and others in high-risk groups have signed up for COVID-19 vaccinations in Moscow starting Saturday, a precursor to a sweeping Russia-wide immunization effort. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
December 4th 2020: Record high closings for all three major market indexes on Wall Street as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 stock market index and the NASDAQ Composite index each closed at new all-time highs. - File Photo by: zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 7/18/20 Atmosphere in and around Wall Street and The New York Stock Exchange in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, New York City on July 18, 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic amid the aftermath of protests, demonstrations, riots, vandalism and destruction of property in response to the death of George Floyd who died while being arrested by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th. Here, The Fearless Girl bronze sculpture wearing a face mask located across from The New York Stock Exchange Building. (NYC)
ANKARA, TURKEY - DECEMBER 05: Citizens arrive at grocery stores, bakeries, markets and pharmacies on duty from the exceptional workplaces close to their homes, after a general curfew imposed weekend-long from Friday 9 p.m. to Monday 5 a.m. local time within new measures against a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ankara, Turkey on December 05, 2020. (Photo by Mehmet Kaman/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Iraqi Christian children, wearing protective masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attend their First Communion ceremony at Mart Shmoni church in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on December 4, 2020. (Photo by SAFIN HAMED / AFP) (Photo by SAFIN HAMED/AFP via Getty Images)
KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 4, 2020: A nurse fills in a syringe as she prepares to give a serviceman of the Russian Navy's Baltic Fleet the Russian Sputnik V vaccine during COVID-19 vaccination. Vitaly Nevar/TASS (Photo by Vitaly Nevar\TASS via Getty Images)
04 December 2020, Saxony, Seiffen: An officer of the riot police stops a vehicle at the edge of the town. On the first Advent weekend there had been a real rush of visitors in the Christmas town of Seiffen in the Erzgebirge mountains. Only residents of the neighbouring districts are still allowed to visit the town. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa (Photo by Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images)
VIENNA, AUSTRIA - DECEMBER 04: Citizens arrive at mass Covid-19 testing centers in Vienna, Austria on December 04, 2020. In Austria, a mass testing for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic which will take 9 days has begun throughout the country. In Vienna, the city municipality transformed the indoor concert hall, fairground and a show center into mass testing centers. (Photo by Askin Kiyagan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

His comments come the day after it was announced that the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, with its rollout expected to start next week.

The government has said it is expecting several million doses of the vaccine before the end of the year, but Boris Johnson warned people not to "get their hopes up" about the speed of the rollout.

Dr Kluge said the promise of vaccines was "phenomenal" and "potentially game-changing" but called for "preparedness".

He said: "To assure that we reap the full reward of those vaccines we need to have plans in place.

"Taking immediate stock of the status of our preparedness, now, in advance of the arrival of vaccines, is absolutely essential."

He added: "We are working with countries to strengthen their readiness for vaccine introduction, their cold chain capacity, vaccine safety monitoring, communication and community engagement.

"With supply expected to be very limited in the initial stage of delivery, all countries must decide who should be vaccinated first to maximise the impact of limited doses in reducing the burden of disease in each country context.

"Our recommendations are that health and social care workers, adults over 60 years of age and residents and staff of long-term care facilities, should be prioritised for access to Covid-19 vaccines in the context of limited supply."

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS