LONDON (The Daily Mail) – COVID jabs will not end the pandemic and leaders should prepare to adjust their vaccine strategy to deal with the virus in the long-term, the World Health Organization’s director for Europe warned.
Dr. Hans Kluge said new strains of COVID will continue to emerge and the virus will remain with us like the flu, The Daily Mail reported.
Earlier this year, he said the pandemic would be over once 70 percent of people were fully immunized.
But he admitted on Friday that the situation had now changed, so leaders need to adapt their vaccination strategy.
Up to 80 percent of people in wealthy countries are double-jabbed, but less than 0.1 percent have received a vaccine in poorer countries.
Some experts initially thought that once enough people were vaccinated, the virus would be unable to spread.
But while the jabs are highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, they are less effective at stopping transmission, leading officials to warn that the world must learn to live with the virus.
In May, Dr Kluge said, “The pandemic will be over once we reach 70 percent minimum coverage in vaccination.”
But asked on Friday whether this number was still the target, or if more people needed to be vaccinated to end the pandemic, Dr Kluge said the situation had changed due to new variants, such as Delta.
He said, “I think it brings us to the point that the aim of a vaccination is first and foremost to prevent more serious disease, and that’s mortality.”
“If we consider that COVID will continue to mutate and remain with us, the way influenza is, then we should anticipate how to gradually adapt our vaccination strategy to endemic transmission and gather really precious knowledge about the impact of additional jabs,” he said.
An endemic level is when there are regular cases of a virus among a population, making the disease spread and rates predictable.