The director of WHO in Europe was more pessimistic today about the possibility of a high rate of vaccination alone stopping the covid-19 pandemic, due to variants that reduced the prospect of collective immunity.
The probability that the disease will continue to be endemic is increasing. Therefore, Hans Kluge asked at a press conference to “anticipate to adapt our vaccination strategies”, especially with regard to booster doses.
In May, Kluge said that “the pandemic will end when we reach a minimum vaccination coverage of 70%” of the world’s population.
When asked whether he was sticking with what he said, Kluge replied that the new, more contagious variants – especially the delta – had changed the situation.
Previously, although this variant initially detected in India already existed, “there was no similar emergence of more transmissible and more viral variants,” he explained.
“This brings us to the point that the essential objective of vaccination is, above all, to prevent the severe forms of the disease and mortality”, he highlighted.
“If we consider that covid will continue to mutate and remain among us, like the flu, then we must anticipate how to progressively adapt our vaccination strategy against endemic transmission, and gain very valuable knowledge about the impact of additional doses,” he added.
According to epidemiologists, it seems unrealistic to achieve collective immunity with vaccines alone, but they are essential to stop the pandemic.
Vaccination also remains essential “to reduce the pressure on our healthcare systems, which desperately need to treat diseases other than covid,” insisted Kluge.
It is estimated that the delta variant, currently dominant, is 60% more contagious than the former (alpha) and twice as much as the historical virus.
The more contagious a virus is, the greater the number of people who need to be immunized to achieve collective immunity and stop the epidemic. Immunity is achieved through vaccines or after contracting the virus.