The highly contagious Delta variant has reduced the effectiveness of vaccines against disease transmission to 40%, the WHO chief said on Wednesday, urging people to continue wearing masks and other barrier practices.
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• To read also: Reduction of the effectiveness of Covaxin against the Delta variant
“Vaccines save lives, but they do not completely prevent the transmission of COVID-19,” explained Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a regular press conference dedicated to the pandemic, which is wreaking havoc in Europe.
“There is data to suggest that before the arrival of the Delta variant, vaccines reduced transmission by approximately 60%, with Delta this was reduced to 40%,” he said.
“In many countries and communities, we fear that there is this misconception that vaccines have ended the pandemic and that people who are vaccinated no longer need to take other precautions,” he added.
The director general of the organization opened his traditional opening speech on the situation in Europe, hard hit by a fifth wave of infections, caused by a mixture of insufficient vaccination rates and a slowdown, probably premature given the dominance of the Delta variant in the country. region – in barrier gestures and restrictions.
“Last week, more than 60% of COVID infections and deaths worldwide occurred in Europe,” Dr. Tedros recalled, adding that “this large number of cases translates into an unbearable burden on health systems. health and exhausted health workers. “
With more than 2.5 million cases and nearly 30,000 deaths registered in the last week, the Old Continent is by far the region of the world most affected by the pandemic, according to official data collected by AFP. And the trend continues to rise.
On Tuesday, WHO Europe was alarmed by the “control” of COVID-19 in Europe, which could cause an additional 700,000 deaths on the continent by spring, in addition to the 1.5 million deaths already counted.
“If you look at the developments closely, people in Europe are at pre-pandemic levels of social interactions, meetings and many other things, despite being in the midst of a very strong resurgence, very strong cases and for some countries enormous pressure on health systems ”, denounced Michael Ryan, WHO director responsible for emergency situations.
“The reality is that the virus will continue to be transmitted intensely in these types of environments,” he warned, since winter forces people to spend more time indoors and makes them more reluctant to ventilate, not to mention that after two years of the pandemic. some fed up has been installed.
“All countries remain vulnerable to these high levels of disease transmission and we must continue to do everything possible to reduce our exposure to the virus,” he said.
Taking advantage of being on the eve of Thanksgiving in the United States, where she is from, Maria Van Kherkove, who leads the fight against COVID in the WHO, recalled that although all other gestures were vaccinated, the barriers were fundamental, in particular the use of the mask, the distancing and the ventilation of the rooms where it is.
Taking the analogy of the Gruyère slices individually letting the virus pass through the holes, but overlapping to form a protective barrier, he regretted that many countries have removed all the layers at once allowing the virus to reboot.
He also warned of the danger of the appearance of a variant even more dangerous than Delta if the traffic continues so intense.
However, the organization’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, insisted that even with Delta, the vaccines are still effective “in more than 80% of cases in preventing the most severe forms” of the disease.
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