In its weekly epidemiological update, the UN health agency noted that the number of infections in Europe was almost twice the global average.
Vaccine Review for Children
In a related development, the WHO said it is continuing to review emerging evidence about the need and timing of vaccinating children with COVID-19 vaccines who have been given an Emergency Use Listing (EUL).
To date, the agency has issued EULs for eight COVID-19 vaccines.
The UN agency’s statement applies to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, such as those manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, which are approved for use in children in some countries.
Last month, a WHO panel said the vaccines’ benefits outweighed the risks for “all age groups.”
The UN agency left it up to individual countries to decide whether to vaccinate young people, also pointing out that serious shortages of COVID-19 vaccines persist in developing countries.
“The greatest burden of disease in terms of serious morbidity and mortality remains among the elderly and people with co-morbidities… Overall, there are proportionally fewer symptomatic infections and cases with serious illnesses and deaths from COVID-19 in children and adolescents, compared to older age groups, according to the WHO.
It also noted that while children may experience symptoms of “long-term COVID-19” following a coronavirus infection, the “frequency and characteristics of these conditions are still under investigation.”
A rare inflammatory syndrome that affects the body’s organs has also been identified in children, which can complicate recovery from COVID-19, the WHO added.
The goals of the UN agency’s global vaccination strategy call for 40 percent coverage in each country by the end of 2021 and 70 percent by the middle of next year.
“These coverage targets have been set to ensure a fair pace of global vaccine rollout and prioritization of those at highest risk. To date, these goals have not been achieved,” the WHO said.
Coverage targets… have not yet been reached – WHO
Children largely spared
The latest age-disaggregated data reported to WHO shows that children under 15 account for just 0.1 percent of coronavirus deaths worldwide; among 15 to 24-year-olds this rises to 0.4 percent.
In its weekly epidemiological review, the UN health agency noted that the number of infections in Europe was almost twice the global average.
The announcement followed a Tuesday warning from the WHO that Europe could see more than two million deaths from the coronavirus by March next year.
In the 53 countries of the European region, reported COVID-19 deaths have now passed the 1.5 million mark.
The Western Pacific and the Americas also reported sharp increases in deaths from the coronavirus, at 29 and 19 percent, respectively. By contrast, Africa and Southeast Asia saw that number fall in the past week.
The United States continued to see the highest number of new cases, but Germany witnessed a 31 percent increase in infections and the UK, a peak of 11 percent – with 281,063 new cases.
The latest WHO data shows that there are more than 256 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 5.1 million deaths worldwide.