Pandemic will only be over once 70% of population is vaccinated, warns WHO
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Pandemic will only be over once 70% of population is vaccinated, warns WHO

Credit: Benoit Doppagne/Belga

The coronavirus pandemic will not be over until at least 70% of the world’s population has been vaccinated, Hans Kluge, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) European director said on Friday.

Kluge expressed concern about the higher contagiousness of new variants of the virus, including the Indian variant.

“The pandemic will be over when we have reached a minimum vaccination coverage of 70%,” he told AFP in an interview in Copenhagen, deploring the fact that “the deployment of vaccination (…) is still too slow.”

This includes Europe, according to Kluge, where the contagiousness of new variants is a source of concern.

“We know, for example, that the B.1617 variant (first identified in India) is more infectious than B.117 (first identified in the UK), which was already more contagious than the previous strain,” he said, stressing that vaccines were currently working against mutations of the coronavirus.

According to Kluge, it is important to speed up the pace of the pandemic, which is “lasting longer than expected. In a pandemic, speed is of the essence,” he said, and that is what was lacking at the beginning of the epidemic.

In the 53 territories that make up the European region according to WHO criteria, 26% of the population has received a first dose of vaccine.

In the EU, 36.6% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine, according to an AFP count, and 16.9% are fully vaccinated.

The Brussels Times