Scotland is now the worst affected Covid region in Europe according to WHO data

Scotland currently has the highest Covid infection rates in the whole of Europe, the World Health Organisation is now warning the country could see an increase in deaths as a result.
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Scotland has become the epicentre of Europe’s Covid pandemic with 10 out of its 14 health boards now in the top 20 worst affected regions in Europe.

Lanarkshire currently has the highest infection rate in the whole of Europe, with 1,125 per 100,000 of population testing positive in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) official rankings.

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While the UK initially took the lead with the vaccine rollout, it also appears vaccination is beginning to lag too, with nine other European countries, including Ireland, having fully vaccinated a higher proportion of their population.

WHO told NationalWorld that Scotland’s problem lies with a younger, unvaccinated population – and could face an increase in deaths as a result.

Which areas are the worst affected in Europe?

Analysis of WHO data by NationalWorld reveals how Scotland has some of the highest infection rates in the whole of Europe.

Besides Lanarkshire, Greater Glasgow and Clyde has the second highest infection rate in Europe, with 1,017 infections per 100,000. This is followed by Kosovo, which has a rate of 734 infections per 100,000.

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WHO’s data contains a mix of geographies – while Scotland is split into health board areas and England into regions, some countries, such as Turkey and Israel, appear as one whole territory.  That could mean there are smaller pockets within the larger areas with higher case rates than in Scotland’s health boards.


Despite the initial success of its vaccine rollout, Israel currently has the fourth highest rate of cases in Europe, in WHO’s ranking. It currently has a rate of 718 per 100,000 of population.

The South West is currently the worst affected region in England with a rate of 366 (ranking 30th). Northern Ireland ranks 27th with a rate of 374 and Wales at 35th with a rate of 348 per 100,000.

The Holy See in the Vatican City State and Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands in Norway currently have the lowest rates in Europe — both recording 0 in the last seven days.

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Turkmenistan has recorded zero Covid cases since the start of the pandemic - however, this has been widely discredited by officials.

Because of differences in reporting dates among countries, the figures are based on the country’s most recent seven-day period. The earliest reporting date is 28 August and the latest is 1 September.

Why is Scotland the worst affected country?

A spokesperson for WHO Europe said a younger, unvaccinated population is driving transmission in Scotland so it is critical that people are fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

The spokesperson said: “Scotland, just like much of the United Kingdom, is seeing high rates of Covid-19 transmission, mainly among unvaccinated individuals since most restrictions linked to Covid-19 were relaxed.

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“Increased incidence has been seen in several areas of the country, and this has also included an increase in incidence in school aged children as they have returned to education earlier than in other parts of the UK.”

Children in Scotland returned to school in August, while England’s pupils are making a staggered return at the start of September.

The spokesperson added: “As case incidence increases, this will cause continued disruption, and morbidity and mortality and more people will go on to have severe Covid-19.”

How does the UK’s vaccine rollout compare to Europe?

While the UK’s vaccine rollout initially took the lead among Europe and the world, it appears the nation is slowly falling behind in the fight against the virus.

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Using data sourced from Our World in Data, NationalWorld can reveal there are now nine European countries with a higher rate of fully vaccinated people .


Malta (80.2%), Iceland (76.8%), Portugal (73.9%), Isle of Man (72.8%), Denmark (72.1%), Spain (70.6%), Faroe Islands (69.9%), Belgium (69.7%) and Ireland (67.6%) now all have higher rates of fully vaccinated people) than the UK.

The UK currently lags behind with a rate of 62.7% of people fully vaccinated.

The data shows an East/West division in the vaccine rollout across the continent.

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While Western European countries have fully vaccinated high percentages of their adult population, some Eastern countries lag far behind.

Ukraine has fully vaccinated 382,5401, just 8.8 %; Moldova has fully vaccinated 684,256 people, or 17%; and Albania has fully vaccinated 633,878 people, or 22.1 %

Russia’s vaccine rollout isn’t much better either. The country has fully vaccinated 36,473,336, just 25%.

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