“Europe needs to step up its vaccination campaign against the new coronavirus, with the support of all pharmaceutical companies,” Hans Kluge, head of the World Health Organization for Europe, told AFP today. the effects of variant strains on vaccine efficacy.
“We need to join forces to speed up vaccination,” said Mr Kluge, at a time when the EU vaccination campaign has been in trouble since its inception due to a lack of vaccines and tensions between Brussels and some pharmaceutical companies.
“Usually competing pharmaceutical companies need to join forces to drastically increase their production capacity, that's what we need,” said Hans Klugge.
In the EU the percentage of the population that has received the first dose of the vaccine is only 2.5%. However, the announcements of several companies that they will increase the deliveries of vaccines raises hopes for the acceleration of vaccinations.
According to him, “we must prepare for the emergence of other mutant strains, mainly by enhancing the coronavirus genome sequencing.”
“This is a harsh reminder that the virus still has the upper hand over humans, but it is not a new virus, it is an evolution of the virus trying to adapt to host humans,” he said.
“The tunnel is a little bigger”
Of the 53 countries on the periphery of Europe as defined by the WHO (some of which are located in Central Asia), 37 have reported cases associated with the variant strain of the new coronavirus originally identified in Britain and 17 of the variant strain was initially identified in South Africa, according to the latest data.
Although the situation now seems more difficult than when the first vaccines were first distributed, the WHO official urged citizens to remain optimistic.
“I will be honest: I think the tunnel will be a little bigger than we thought in December, but this will be a year that is easier to manage than the previous one,” he said.
“There is no 'solution' or 'strategy'. “We have to be better at what we do and we are in the process of improving,” he said.
Hans Klüge reiterated his call for solidarity with countries that cannot afford vaccines, urging rich countries to speed up the distribution of doses to poor countries after achieving a specific vaccination target against Covid-19.
“Maybe if EU countries get to vaccinate 20% of their population – 20% means the elderly, healthcare workers, people with comorbidities – then maybe it 's time to distribute the vaccines,” he suggested.
The limit of 100 million doses of covid-19 vaccine worldwide was exceeded on Tuesday, with 65% of these doses being given to the highest income countries, according to the World Bank criteria.
“We know that in the EU, in Canada, in Britain, in the USA, the orders exceeded the necessary installments by four to nine times. “So they do not need to reach 70% (of those vaccinated in the general population) to share (the vaccines) with the Balkans, Central Asia or Africa.”
Although the WHO opposes the creation of vaccination certificates in order to monitor the progress of the campaigns, Klouge criticized the prospect of creating a vaccination passport that would be a prerequisite for travel.
“It is clearly something we do not support, because it will increase inequalities and raise many questions,” he said.