A senior World Health Organization official said on Monday that it was “premature” and “unrealistic” to think the pandemic could be stopped by the end of the year, but that the recent arrival of Effective vaccines could at least help drastically reduce hospitalizations and deaths.
The sole goal of the world right now should be to keep the transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible, said Dr Michael Ryan, director of the WHO emergency program.
“If we are smart, we can end the hospitalizations, deaths and tragedy associated with this pandemic” by the end of the year, he said at a press briefing.
Ryan said the WHO was reassured by emerging data that many licensed vaccines appear to be helping curb the explosive spread of the virus.
“If vaccines start to impact not only death and not just hospitalization, but have a significant impact on the dynamics of transmission and the risk of transmission, then I believe we will step up the fight against this pandemic. “
However, Ryan cautioned against complacency, saying nothing is guaranteed in an evolving epidemic.
“Right now the virus is very much under control,” he said.
The WHO director-general, meanwhile, said it was “unfortunate” that younger, healthier adults in some wealthy countries were vaccinated against the coronavirus in front of at-risk health workers in developing countries. development.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said vaccinations provided by the UN-backed effort COVAX began this week in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, but lamented that this only happened three months after countries like the Great Brittany, the United States and Canada have started to vaccinate their own populations.
“Countries are not in competition with each other,” he said. “It’s a common race against the virus. We are not asking countries to put their own citizens at risk. We call on all countries to be part of a global effort to eradicate the virus everywhere. “
However, the WHO has refrained from criticizing countries that are working to immunize younger, healthier populations instead of donating their doses to countries that have yet to be able to protect their populations most. vulnerable.
“We cannot tell every country what to do,” said Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO senior adviser.
Tedros also noted that for the first time in seven weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases increased last week, after six straight weeks of declining numbers. He called the increase “disappointing” but said it was not surprising.
Tedros said the WHO was working to better understand why cases had increased, but part of that spike appeared to be due to “easing public health measures.”