The World Health Organization is pessimistic that COVID-19 vaccines will end the pandemic. New variants of the virus, according to the WHO, are dampening hopes for achieving herd immunity.
Given the fact that the virus could be present for many years, the head of the WHO for Europe, Hans Kluge, said that perhaps health officials should plan an adaptation of the vaccination strategy, especially when it comes to an additional dose of the vaccine.
In May, the WHO said that “the pandemic will end when 70 percent of the world’s population is vaccinated.”
The AFP agency asked the WHO official, Kluge if this percentage still remains a goal of the organization, but he said that the situation has changed due to new variants, such as Delta.
“I think this brings us to the point where the purpose of vaccination is first and foremost to prevent more serious disease and mortality,” he said.
“We need to gradually adapt the vaccination strategy if we take into account the fact that COVID-19 will continue to change and stay with us, as is the flu,” he added.
Despite the fact that vaccines remain crucial to control the pandemic, epidemiologists now say it is not very realistic for herd immunity to be achieved through the immunization process alone.
The high rate of vaccination also helps a lot in preventing “overload of health care systems,” Kluge said.
The Delta variant is estimated to be 60 percent more transmissible than the previous dominant Alpha variant, and twice as contagious as the original coronavirus virus detected in Wuhan, China.
The more contagious the virus, the higher the threshold for achieving herd immunity.
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