Regardless of vaccinations, the pandemic is much from over
Family members of Vijay Raju, who died due to Covid, mourn before his cremation in the village of Giddenahalli on the outskirts of Bengaluru, India, on May 13, 2021.
Samuel Rajkumar | Reuters
The global pandemic is not over yet, despite high Covid vaccination rates in some countries, the head of the World Health Organization warned on Monday, days after the CDC told fully vaccinated Americans that they could go without a mask in most places.
“There is a tremendous hiatus where in some countries with the highest vaccination rates the pandemic appears to be over while others are experiencing large waves of infection,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference from the agency’s headquarters in genf.
“The pandemic is far from over,” he warned. “It won’t be over anywhere until it’s over everywhere.”
Tedros’ comments came four days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their public health guidelines to say that fully vaccinated people no longer wear face masks in most settings, whether outdoors or indoors, or 6 Need to stay away from others. It’s the first time the federal government has been encouraging people to stop wearing masks since the agency first called for face coverings more than a year ago.
Some doctors said the new guidelines mean “people who have been vaccinated can go back to normal”.
In the United States, new Covid cases are on the decline as more Americans get vaccinated. As of Sunday, the nation reports about 33,200 new infections daily based on a 7-day average of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, a 19% decrease from a week earlier. According to the CDC, around 123 million Americans are fully vaccinated.
Major outbreaks occur in other countries. India, for example, reports an average of around 328,900 cases per day for seven days as of Sunday, according to Hopkins. That’s 15% less than a week ago, but it’s still an enormous number of cases. The country also hit a new record of deaths, reporting an average of 4,039 deaths in seven days, according to Hopkins data.
A woman mourns after her husband died of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside a morgue of a COVID-19 hospital in Ahmedabad, India on May 8, 2021.
Amit Dave | Reuters
Tedros said the agency has responded to the surge in India and other hot spots around the world. He said WHO needed immediate funding to maintain its technical and operational support to all countries, especially those hardest hit by the pandemic.
“The current response plan is underfunded and the vast majority of it is earmarked by donors for specific countries or activities,” he said.
He also urged Covid’s vaccine makers, including Pfizer and Moderna, to make more vaccines available to COVAX, which doses poorer countries.
“We need cans now and we urge them to move forward with deliveries as soon as possible,” he said.