World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference organized by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) on the COVID-19 outbreak at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, July 3, 2020.
Fabrice Coffrini | Swimming pool | Reuters
The World Health Organization is urging the public to practice Covid mitigation tactics, including camouflage and distancing, regardless of vaccination status, as cases rise across Europe ahead of the holidays.
Some countries and communities have been seduced by a “false sense of security” that the pandemic is over and vaccinated are fully protected from Covid, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters during an update on Wednesday in Geneva.
He noted that Covid vaccines “save lives” and reduce the risk of serious illness and death, but vaccinated people can still get infected and spread the virus as social confusion returns to pre-pandemic levels.
“Even if you are vaccinated, continue to take precautions to avoid catching yourself and infecting someone else who may die,” Tedros said. “It means wearing a mask, keeping your distance, avoiding crowds and meeting others outside if you can, or in a well-ventilated area.”
Tedros called Europe “the epicenter of the pandemic” with “unbearable pressures” facing both health systems and staff. According to the latest weekly WHO epidemiological data, Europe accounted for 67% of the world’s total new Covid cases in the week ended November 21, with more than 2.4 million infections, an 11% increase over the previous seven days.
The WHO office covering Europe and Central Asia said on Tuesday that the total number of deaths from coronavirus in these regions has exceeded 1.5 million, and by March 2022, 700,000 more people may die. The organization expects high or extreme mortality rates in intensive care units in 49 of the 53 countries in the region. stress for the next four months.
According to Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, governments scaling back public health are fueling the current outbreak in Europe.
“In Europe, even in the midst of a very, very strong spike in cases, and even among some of these countries, which are under tremendous pressure from their health systems, we are seeing pre-pandemic levels of social confusion, gathering and more,” Ryan said. And the reality is that the virus will continue to spread rapidly in this environment. ”
While most of the reported cases of Covid worldwide are in Europe, Tedros added that “no country or region has emerged from the forest yet.” But expanding vaccination coverage, wearing masks, using distance and improving indoor ventilation can help reduce Covid transmission without resorting to lockdowns ahead of the holiday season, said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s Covid technical lead.
The number of Covid infections is also on the rise in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 95,000 new cases reported daily on average. On average, more than 1,100 people a day die from the virus in the United States, according to Hopkins.
More than 51,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, according to seven-day average health and human services data as of Wednesday, up 7% from last week.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA chief and board member of Pfizer, told CNBC that more vaccinated people are catching the virus than people think due to poor monitoring of breakthrough infections in the United States.
“At this point, I think we have to acknowledge that there are a lot of breakthrough infections going on, especially in people who have not passed a significant portion of the time after the initial vaccination,” Gottlieb said. “There will be retrospective studies that identify this, but we are not doing a good job of tracking this in real time. And this is an argument for people to go and get boosters, ”he said.
On Friday, the US approved Pfizer and Moderna boosters for all adults. Johnson & Johnson boosters were approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in October. The WHO has criticized the widespread adoption of boosters in rich countries because people in poorer countries have very limited access to vaccines.
Partial isolation was introduced in the Netherlands on Saturday, and the fourth full isolation from the Covid virus began in Austria on Monday, and a nationwide vaccination mandate went into effect on 1 February. an all-time high of more than 53,100 people a day on Tuesday, up 29% from a week earlier, according to CNBC’s analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
The White House on Monday said the Biden administration had no plans for a lockdown, pointing to an increase in vaccinations and the emergence of new therapies. The US government has purchased 10 million courses of Pfizer tablets for the treatment of Covid, Paxlovid, which have been shown to be highly effective in preventing hospitalizations during clinical trials.
“We can curb the spread of the virus without stopping our economy in any way,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zientes told reporters during a briefing. “Now 82% of people get one shot, and more and more people are being vaccinated every week.”