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WHO: Europe has surpassed 1 million COVID-19 deaths

GENEVA — A top official from the World Health Organization says Europe has surpassed 1 million deaths from COVID-19 and the situation remains “serious,” with about 1.6 million new cases reported each week in the region.

Addressing recent concerns about vaccines, Dr. Hans Kluge also said the risk of people suffering blood clots is far higher for people with COVID-19 than people who receive AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Greece, Kluge did point to “early signs that transmission may be slowing across several countries” and cited “declining incidence” among the oldest people.

A Torlak Institute's employee arranges vials of the Sputnik V vaccine prior to the visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 15, 2021. Serbia has announced it will begin packing and later producing Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which would make it the first European state outside Russia and Belarus to begin manufacturing the jab. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)

He said the proportion of COVID-19 deaths among people over 80, who have been prioritized for vaccines, had dropped to nearly 30% — the lowest level in the pandemic.

“For now, the risk of suffering blood clots is much higher for someone with COVID-19 than for someone who has taken the AstraZeneca vaccine,” he said.

“Let there be no doubt about it, the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective in reducing COVID-19 hospitalization and preventing deaths,” he added, saying WHO recommends its use for all eligible adults.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic poses with a vial of the Sputnik V in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 15, 2021. Serbia has announced it will begin packing and later producing Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which would make it the first European state outside Russia and Belarus to begin manufacturing the jab. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)

Vials of the Sputnik V vaccine placed on a table prior to the visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 15, 2021. Serbia has announced it will begin packing and later producing Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which would make it the first European state outside Russia and Belarus to begin manufacturing the jab. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic holds a vial of the Sputnik V in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 15, 2021. Serbia has announced it will begin packing and later producing Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which would make it the first European state outside Russia and Belarus to begin manufacturing the jab. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)

A member of the medical staff prepares a dose of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, also know as CoronaVac, during a mass vaccination program at Skanderbeg Square in Tirana, Albania, Thursday, April 15, 2021. Albania has made virus slabs to almost 300,000 people, starting with the medical personnel, eldest people and schoolteachers to achieve a mass inoculation campaign ahead of the summer tourism season. (AP Photo)

A woman receives the first dose of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination program at Skanderbeg Square in Tirana, Albania, Thursday, April 15, 2021. Albania has made virus slabs to almost 300,000 people, starting with the medical personnel, eldest people and schoolteachers to achieve a mass inoculation campaign ahead of the summer tourism season. (AP Photo)