Europe must prepare for a rise in daily COVID-19 deaths in October and November, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
"It's going to get tougher. In October, November, we are going to see more mortality," Hans Kluge, Director of WHO's European office, said on Monday.
Many countries in Europe have recently toughened up measures to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — following weeks of rising infections although the number of deaths has remained stable.
France registered more than 10,000 daily new infections for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic on Saturday. The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, warned that the country is on the cusp of a second wave on Sunday and toughened up face mask requirements while in England, tougher rules were also introduced on Monday including a ban on gatherings of more than six people, in both private and public settings.
"It's a moment where countries don't want to hear this news, and I understand," Kluge added.
He said he wanted to send the "positive message" that the pandemic "is going to finish, at one moment or another" but stressed that a vaccine may not be the silver bullet many hope it will be.
"I hear the whole time, 'The vaccine is going to be the end of the pandemic.' Of course not!" he said.
"We don't even know if the vaccine is going to help all population groups. We are getting some signs now that it will help for one group and not for the other," he explained.
"The end of the pandemic is the moment that we as a community are going to learn how to live with this pandemic. And it depends on us and that's a very positive message."
The 55 countries included in the WHO Europe region are meeting virtually on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the evolution of the pandemic.