Europe and pharmaceutical groups need to work together to speed up Covid-19 vaccinations, the head of the European division of the World Health Organization said on Friday, expressing concern about the effectiveness of vaccines against virus variants.
“We have to be” prepared for new problematic mutations of the virus “by expanding the capacities of the countries for genome sequencing,” said Hans Kluge, director of WHO Europe, to AFP in an interview.
In the European Union, only 2.5 percent of the population have received a first dose of vaccine, although announcements by several laboratories of increased vaccine delivery have raised hopes of speeding it up.
“We have to band together to speed up vaccinations. Otherwise, competing pharmaceutical companies will have to band together to dramatically increase production capacity. That’s what we need,” he said.
When asked whether the vaccines that have been available since December are effective against new virus variants, Kluge replied, “That is the big question. I am concerned.
“It’s a cruel reminder that the virus still has the upper hand over humans.”
While fighting the pandemic now seems more difficult than it did in December when the first vaccines became available, Kluge remained optimistic.
“I’m honest, I think the tunnel is a little longer than at the end of December, but this year it will be manageable and avoidable.”
He reiterated the WHO’s demand that rich countries show solidarity with poor nations who cannot buy vaccines and urged the rich to share their doses after vaccinating part of their own population.
“When EU countries vaccinate 20 percent of their population – 20 percent would mean the elderly, healthcare workers and people with comorbidities – when they hit 20 percent, this may be the moment they can already start sharing some vaccines “he said recommended.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)