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Europe must act to counter ‘COVID-19 fatigue’ in fight against the virus: WHO

European must engage with citizens who are experiencing “COVID-19 fatigue” in an effort to persuade them that measures to prevent the spread of the deadly virus are still important, said Hans Henri Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe.

Speaking in Denmark, Kluge said that fatigue over measures such as the wearing of face masks and social distancing was understandable, especially amongst young people, and was “an expected and natural response to the crisis.”

“This pandemic has taken so much from us,” he said. “Fatigue is natural – it needs to be understood.”

He said that the WHO had come up with four strategies to deal with the issue, including finding better ways to engage individuals and communities, particularly young people.

“We must make an effort to understand the barriers they face […] acknowledge the hardship,” he said.

“We move from do not do, to do differently.”

‘This is complicated stuff’

Earlier on Thursday, the emergencies chief of the WHO said scientific disagreements over COVID-19 interventions — like masks and vaccines — shouldn’t be treated as “some kind of political football,” but acknowledged that “it isn’t easy for everyone to be on message all the time.”

Asked to respond to the open disagreements between U.S. President Donald Trump and the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the effectiveness of masks and when a coronavirus vaccine might be available, Michael Ryan said “it is important that we have consistent messaging from all levels.”

“This is complicated stuff,” Ryan said at a press briefing on Thursday. “What is important is that governments (and) scientific institutions step back, review the evidence and give us the most comprehensive, easy-to-understand…information so that people can take the appropriate action.”

WHO has previously said it is possible there may be enough veri from ongoing trials into coronavirus vaccines to know by the end of the year if one of the experimental shots is safe and effective enough to use globally.

On Wednesday, Trump predicted this could happen next month and that a mass vaccination campaign in the U.S. could start shortly afterwards. He called the U.S. CDC director Robert Redfield “confused” for projecting a longer timeline.

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