Many countries have not reached their peak in cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus and measures imposed to curb its spread should be eased slowly, the World Health Organization’s technical lead on COVID-19 said on Feb. 1.

Many countries are expanding Covid-19 vaccine booster programs or shortening the gap between shots as governments scramble to shore up protection against the new Omicron variant which emerged during November in southern Africa and Hong Kong.

Europe crossed 75 million coronavirus cases on December 3, according to a Reuters tally, as the region braces for the new Omicron variant at a time when hospitals in some countries are already strained by the current surge.

Austria imposed a lockdown on people unvaccinated against the coronavirus on November 15 as winter approaches and infections rise across Europe, with Germany considering tighter curbs and Britain expanding its booster program to younger adults.

Novartis will manufacture the anti-cholesterol medicine Leqvio at the company’s own plant in Austria to supply the United States as the Swiss drugmaker seeks U.S. approval that has been delayed by regulatory concerns over a contractor’s Italian facility.

Austrian authorities suspended inoculations with a batch of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine as a precaution while investigating the death of one person and the illness of another after the shots, a health agency said on March 7.

Pfizer slashed in half the volume of Covid-19 vaccines the company will deliver to some EU countries this week, government officials said, as frustration over the U.S. drugmaker’s unexpected cut in supplies grows.

Europe launched a mass Covid-19 vaccination drive on Dec. 27 with pensioners and medics lining up to get the first shots to see off a pandemic that has crippled economies and claimed more than 1.7 million lives worldwide.

Europe launched a cross-border vaccination program of unprecedented scale on Dec. 27 as part of efforts to end the Covid-19 pandemic that has crippled economies and claimed more than 1.7 million lives around the world.

Countries across the globe shut their borders to Britain on Dec. 21 due to fears about a highly infectious new coronavirus strain, causing travel chaos and raising the prospect of food shortages days before Britain is set to leave the European Union.