Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Program, said it is necessary to reach at least 80 percent of the population with COVID-19 vaccinations. This will significantly reduce the risk that imported cases of coronavirus, including new strains, could trigger a wider pandemic outbreak.
Ryan told a news conference that “high vaccination coverage is the way out of this pandemic.” Many wealthy countries are already moving to vaccinate adolescents and children, even as these countries are forced to share vaccines with poorer states, the Associated Press notes. In Britain, which has seen a significant drop in coronavirus cases thanks to active vaccinations, there has been a recent increase in the number of cases, mainly attributable to the so-called “delta variant” that originally appeared in India. Ryan acknowledged that it is not yet clear to scientists what percentage of vaccination coverage is needed to completely neutralize transmission of the virus.
For her part, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, noted that the delta variant is spreading in more than 60 countries and is “more transferable” than the alpha variant, which first appeared in the United Kingdom. Alarming trends of increased transmission of the virus, weakening of public health measures and social distancing are currently observed in many countries, she said. She noted the uneven and inequitable distribution of vaccines.
Meanwhile, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called on the leaders of the G-7 developed countries to help the UN-backed COVID-19 vaccination program to expand developing countries’ access to drugs. G-7 leaders will meet in England later this week. They can help meet the goal of having at least 10 percent of the population in each country vaccinated by the end of September and 30 percent by the end of 2021, the head of WHO said. “To achieve these goals, we need an additional 250 million doses by September, and we need hundreds of millions of doses in June and July alone,” said Gebreyesus. “These seven countries have the strength to achieve these goals. I urge the G-7 to do more than just share and share them in June and July. “