This photo taken on July 3, 2020 shows a sign from the World Health Organization (WHO) at its Geneva headquarters amid the COVID-19 outbreak caused by the novel coronavirus.
A coronavirus vaccine this winter will not help countries fight back the current wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe and North America as well as overwhelming hospitals, the World Health Organization warned on Wednesday.
“We’re not there yet with vaccines. We’ll get there, but we’re not there,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergency Program, during a live Q&A event. “And a lot of countries are going through this wave and they are going through this wave and they are going through this wave and continue this wave without vaccines.”
Weeks of growing Covid-19 cases have forced countries in Europe including the UK, France and Germany. to take strict action contain the spread of the virus, shut down unnecessary shops and advise residents to stay home as much as possible.
However, coronavirus deaths, which typically lag behind reported cases for weeks, increased 18% in the region over the same period. In America, cases rose 41% and deaths rose 11% for the week, according to the WHO report.
In the United States, there were 76,823 Covid-19 patients in hospital on Tuesday Covid tracking projectrun by journalists in the Atlantic. Some states are starting to impose mask mandates and take stricter measures against companies that do not adhere to social distancing rules, even though measures are inconsistent in the US.
“There is now an aggressive, relentless, growing community across the country that is reaching most of the counties with no sign of improvement but of further deterioration,” the latest weekly report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force said. received from NBC News.
The outcomes of critically ill patients could deteriorate in some countries with overstretched health systems as healthcare workers are forced to ration their time and attention, Ryan said.
“Not only do we have full hospitals, but those hospitals aren’t going to do as well,” he said. “There is only one way to prevent more people from being hospitalized and that is to prevent more people from being exposed and infected.”
The WHO warning comes as Pfizer announced on Wednesday that the final data analysis of his vaccine shows it is 95% effective in preventing Covid-19. On Monday, Moderna reported preliminary data from Phase 3 trials that also showed the vaccine was more than 94% effective at preventing Covid-19.
It will likely take months, maybe even more than a year to distribute enough doses for the US and the rest of the world to quell the virus, public health officials and health experts warn.
“Some people think that the vaccine will, in a sense, be the solution. The unicorn we’ve all haunted. It’s not,” Ryan said. “How do we bring Covid to zero? Adding vaccines gives us a great opportunity, but if we add vaccines and forget about the other things, Covid doesn’t go to zero.”
Maria van Kerkhove, WHO director of emerging diseases and zoonosis, said the vaccine will add to another toolkit of public health measures needed to prevent the virus from spreading.
Other tools include drugs to treat critically ill patients and compliance with recommended public health measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and hand hygiene.
“We currently have the means within our power to change the course of this pandemic and we are seeing countries do so,” she said. “We are also seeing countries that are in a frightening situation that are taking a small turnaround. We are seeing a decline in incidence with measures that have been taken.”
– CNBCs Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.