EU health chief says pandemic getting worse in many EU countries

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FILE PHOTO: EU Commission head von der Leyen and EU commissioners hold news conference on plans to tackle COVID-19 variants

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The pandemic is getting worse in many European countries, with the numbers of COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths on the rise, European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told a news conference on Wednesday.

In response, the Commission said it was tightening rules for exports of COVID-19 vaccines made in the EU.

"The revision of the export transparency mechanism comes when the situation is alarming in many member states," Kyriakides said. "19 countries are now reporting increases in the number of cases ... 8 are reporting an increase in the number of deaths," she said.

"The situation is concerning because we have seen the increase in the number of (coronavirus) variants in the recent weeks," she said.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Phil Blenkinsop)