The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, attends a press conference organized by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 epidemic, at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, July 3, 2020.
Fabrice Coffrini | Swimming pool | Reuters
The World Health Organization urges the public to practice Covid mitigation tactics – including masking and distancing – regardless of vaccine status as cases increase across Europe as the outbreak approaches holiday season.
Some countries and communities have been drawn into a “false sense of security” that the pandemic is over and those vaccinated are fully protected against Covid, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at the meeting. ‘an update Wednesday in Geneva.
He noted that Covid vaccines “save lives” and reduce the risk of serious illness and death, but those vaccinated can still contract and spread the virus as social mix returns to pre-pandemic levels.
“Even if you are vaccinated, continue to take precautions to avoid getting infected yourself and infecting someone else who could die,” Tedros said. “This means wearing a mask, keeping the distance, avoiding crowds, and meeting other people outside if you can, or in a well-ventilated space indoors.”
Tedros called Europe the “epicenter of the pandemic”, with “unbearable pressure” facing both health systems and staff. Europe accounted for 67% of the total new Covid cases worldwide in the week ended November 21 with more than 2.4 million infections, an increase of 11% from the previous seven days, according to the latest weekly epidemiological update from WHO.
The WHO office covering Europe and Central Asia said on Tuesday those regions have passed 1.5 million combined deaths from Covid and could suffer an additional 700,000 deaths by March 2022. The organization is expects intensive care units in 49 of the region’s 53 countries to experience high or extreme levels of stress over the next four months.
Governments rolling back public health measures are fueling the current epidemic in Europe, said Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergency program.
“In Europe, even in the midst of a very, very strong resurgence of cases, and even in the midst of some of these countries under enormous pressure in their health systems, we are seeing pre-pandemic levels of social mixing, gathering and a lot of other things, ”Ryan said. “And the reality is that the virus will continue to spread intensely in this environment.”
Although the majority of the Covid cases reported worldwide are in Europe, Tedros added that “no country or region has come out of the woods yet.” But expanding vaccine coverage, wearing masks, using distance and improving indoor ventilation can help reduce Covid transmission without resorting to blockages before the holiday season, said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical manager on Covid.
Covid infections are also on the rise in the United States, with more than 95,000 new cases reported daily on average, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In the United States, more than 1,100 people die on average each day from the virus, according to Hopkins.
More than 51,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, according to a seven-day average of health and social services data as of Wednesday, up 7% from last week.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said unvaccinated people aged 2 and older should wear a mask in indoor public places. Fully vaccinated people should wear face covers indoors or in crowded outdoor spaces in places with high Covid transmission, according to the agency. The CDC also requires masks on planes, trains and buses, as well as at all transportation hubs.
CDC guidelines also advise a distance of six feet between people who do not live in the same household, especially for those at high risk of severe symptoms of Covid.
Dr Scott Gottlieb, former head of the United States Food and Drug Administration and a member of the Pfizer board of directors, told CNBC that more people vaccinated get the virus than people think due to the low revolutionary infection surveillance in the United States.
“At this point, I think we have to accept that there are a lot of breakthrough infections, especially people who are absent part of the time from their original vaccination,” Gottlieb said. “There will be retrospective studies that identify that, but we’re not doing a good job of tracking this in real time. And that’s the argument for people to go out and get callbacks,” he said. .
The United States cleared the Pfizer and Moderna boosters for all adults on Friday. Johnson & Johnson boosters were cleared by the CDC in October. WHO has criticized the wide distribution of boosters in rich countries because people in poorer countries have very limited access to vaccines.
The Netherlands entered a partial lockdown on Saturday, while Austria’s fourth full lockdown against Covid began on Monday, with a nationwide vaccine mandate taking effect on February 1. a record high of more than 53,100 a day on Tuesday, up 29% from the previous week, according to CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
The White House said on Monday that the Biden administration had no lockdown plan, highlighting rising vaccination rates and new therapeutic treatments that are coming online. The US government has purchased 10 million courses of Pfizer’s Covid treatment pill, Paxlovid, which has been shown to be highly effective in preventing hospital admissions in a clinical trial.
“We can curb the spread of the virus without having to shut down our economy in any way,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters at a briefing. “We now have 82% of people who have had a single injection and more and more people are getting vaccinated every week. “