COVID-19 has severely affected the world for more than a year now and, its end still does not seem to be in sight. On Friday, in an interview with news agency AFP, WHO’s European director Hans Kluge warned that the coronavirus pandemic won't be over until a minimum of 70% of the world is populated.
Hans Kluge, who has held the position of regional director since February 2020, admired the calls of solidarity. The Belgian doctor also highlighted the importance of the speedy rollout of the vaccines to achieve its goal of fighting the pandemic and resorting to regular life.
More contagious variants
While exceptional advancements are made by sciences to deal with the ongoing pandemic, there still seems to be a problem in our fight against the deadly virus. Since the new variants of the COVID-19 virus have proven to be deadlier than before, one of the main concerns WHO has is the contagiousness of the new strains:
We know for example that the B.1617 (Indian variant) is more transmissible than the B.117 (British variant), which already was more transmissible than the previous strain.
As vaccination is the only way out of this what now seems like a never-ending pandemic, Kluge emphasised the importance of increasing vaccination rates and said:
Don't think the COVID-19 pandemic is over...The pandemic will be over once we reach 70 per cent minimum coverage in vaccination
Adding on to this Kluge, also expressed his disappointment in how people have become more complacent. Since large gatherings are imminent in Europe due to the European Football championship. He insisted on being cautious by wearing masks, obeying social distancing norms and added:
Let's finally give COVID-19 the red card, don't allow extra time for COVID-19.
The essence of speed
According to an AFP tally, there has been a decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases worldwide four times in a row. Although vaccines have proven effective against the new mutations, people still need to be vigilant. Kluge also underlined that speed is 'of essence' in these times. He said:
Our best friend is speed, time is working against us, (and) the vaccination roll-out still goes too slow...We need to accelerate, we need to enlarge the number of vaccines
Even when WHO declared a pandemic, many countries were still waiting, we lost valuable time.
He further criticised Europe's vaccine rollout as 'too slow' and said:
It is not acceptable that some countries start to vaccinate the younger, healthy part of the population, while other countries in our region still did not cover all the health care workers and the most vulnerable people.
Amongst all the territories and countries under WHO’s European region, 26 per cent of the population has received the first dose as compared to 36.6 per cent of people in the European Union.