Imposing coronavirus measures such as lockdowns and curfews cannot be replaced by vaccination alone as long as coronavirus infection rates continue to rise, according to the regional director for Europe at the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.
Overall, over 1.2 million new cases were reported in the region and over 20,000 people died as a result of the virus in Europe last week, the WHO said during an update of the coronavirus situation on Thursday.
"We are yet to see the wide-spread benefits of the vaccines, which I can assure you will come. But for now, let there be no doubt about it, vaccinations alone, particularly giving the varied uptake across the region, do not replace public health and social measures. We need to remain steadfast in our application of the full range of tools to respond to this virus," Kluge said.
He said that, with the vaccination rate ranging from less than 1% up to 44% in the region, it is far too early to understand the impact of vaccines on the overall hospitalisations and deaths caused by the virus.
Kluge added that 48 out of 53 countries have reported the British variant, which is “gradually becoming dominant in the region.”
“However, even in the context of this more transmissible strain many countries, including Denmark, Portugal and Spain, have managed to decrease infections by following public health measures,” he added.
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Of the 53 countries in the region, 46 have administered more than 107 million doses of vaccine and 3% of the population in 45 of these countries have been fully vaccinated, Kluge said.
Whilst discussing vaccines, he addressed the controversy around the AstraZeneca vaccine, which many countries in the region have temporarily stopped using due to health concerns, and reiterated that the benefits of the vaccination still far outweigh any possible adverse consequences.
During the update, the organisation also warned that the introduction of vaccine passports “should not be a requirement for a number of reasons", as it could lead to further inequalities between people.
The Brussels Times