WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- WHO’s director for Europe says vaccines will not end the pandemic due to new variants.
- Dr. Hans Kluge warns that new strains of Covid will continue to emerge and the virus will remain with us like the flu.
- Kluge urged world leaders to adjust their vaccine strategy to deal with the virus in the long term.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Europe regional director says the Covid-19 vaccines’ ability to end the Covid-19 pandemic is doubtful. With new variants emerging, hopes of achieving herd community are getting slimmer.
Health officials must “anticipate how to gradually adapt our vaccination strategy,” amid the possibility that the virus would be around for many years, Kluge told reporters on Friday.
In My, Kluge noted that the “pandemic will be over once we reach 70 percent minimum coverage in vaccination.”
When asked if this is still the same target, Kluge admitted that the situation has changed due to new, more transmissible variants, such as Delta, reported AFP.
“I think it brings us to the point that the aim of a vaccination is first and foremost to prevent more serious disease, and that’s mortality,” he said.
“If we consider that Covid will continue to mutate and remain with us, the way influenza is, then we should anticipate how to gradually adapt our vaccination strategy to endemic transmission and gather really precious knowledge about the impact of additional jabs,” Kluge added.
Epidemiologists now say reaching herd immunity through vaccination alone seems to be unrealistic. However, vaccines are still significant to rein transmissions and contain the virus.
Up to 80 percent of people in wealthy countries are fully vaccinated, but less than 0.1 percent have received a vaccine in poorer nations.
According to WHO, the Delta variant is 60 percent more transmissible than the previous dominant variant Alpha and twice as contagious as the original virus. The more contagious virus makes reaching herd immunity harder.
Still, achieving high vaccination rates are crucial to “unloading pressure from healthcare systems” that desperately need to treat other diseases that have been pushed to the backburner by Covid-19, said Kluge.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Thursday announced a new coronavirus variant known as “Mu,” which may be a cause for concern.
Source: The Independent