Europe confronts a COVID rebound as vaccine hopes recede

Governments and public-health experts say only a combination of accelerated vaccinations and gradual reopening can defeat Covid-19’s latest rebound. But the EU’s efforts continue to suffer from its slowness in procuring and approving vaccines, production delays at vaccine makers, and bureaucratic holdups in injecting available doses.

So far, there is nothing like the acute hospital crisis that overwhelmed healthcare systems in parts of Italy and Spain a year ago. Instead, the bloc’s public-health crisis has become chronic, with authorities struggling constantly to tamp down the flames…

Health Minister Olivier Veran told reporters Thursday that variants now account for more than 70% of new infections in France. Pressure is rising again on intensive-care units in the Paris region, where he said a new patient is admitted every 12 minutes. Mr. Veran said he expected authorities to begin transferring scores of patients out of the Paris area to hospitals in regions that have fewer cases. Nationwide, ICUs are nearly 80% full.

“It’s a situation that I would qualify as tense and worrying,” Mr. Veran said.