The head of the WHO Europe was Friday pessimistic about vaccines’ ability to place an end to the Covid pandemic, as new variants dash hopes of reaching herd immunity.
Faced with the likelihood that the virus could also be around for several years, health officials must now “anticipate the way to gradually adapt our vaccination strategy,” especially on the question of additional doses, Hans Kluge told reporters.
The pandemic are going to be over once we reach 70 percent minimum coverage in vaccination, said the WHO director in May.
Asked by AFP if that figure was still a target or whether more people would wish to be vaccinated, Kluge acknowledged that things had changed thanks to new, more transmissible variants, such as Delta
“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 still mutate and remain with us, the way influenza is, then we should always anticipate the way to gradually adapt our vaccination strategy to endemic transmission and gather really precious knowledge about the impact of additional jabs,” he added.
Epidemiologists now suggest that it’s unrealistic that herd immunity is often reached solely with the utilization of vaccines, though they continue to be crucial to contain the pandemic.
High vaccination rates also are necessary “to unload the pressure from healthcare systems” that desperately got to treat other diseases pushed to the backburner by Covid, Kluge said.
The Delta variant is taken into account to be 60 percent more transmissible than the previous dominant variant Alpha, and twice as contagious because the original virus.
The more contagious the virus, the upper the bar for reaching herd immunity, which is when enough people are immune that the virus stops circulating. That can be obtained either by vaccination or natural infection.