The highly infectious Delta variant has reduced the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing transmission of the coronavirus to 40%, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, urging people to continue to wear masks and to respect barrier gestures.
“Vaccines save lives, but they do not completely prevent the transmission of Covid-19”, WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press briefing on the pandemic which is wreaking havoc in Europe.
“There is some evidence to suggest that before the arrival of the Delta variant, vaccines reduced transmission by about 60%, with the Delta variant this dropped to 40%”, he added.
Tedros began his traditional opening speech on the situation in Europe, which has been hit hard by a new wave of infections, caused by a combination of insufficient and possibly premature vaccination rates given the predominance of the Delta variant in the region of the easing of the measures barriers and restrictions.
“Last week, more than 60% of infections and deaths from Covid worldwide occurred in Europe”said Ghebreyesus, adding that “this huge number of cases places an unbearable burden on health systems and exhausted health workers.”
With more than 2.5 million cases and nearly 30,000 deaths recorded last week, Europe is by far the region of the world most affected by the pandemic, according to official data collected by AFP. And the trend remains on the rise.
On Tuesday, WHO Europe warned that “taking control” of Covid-19 in Europe could lead to 700,000 additional deaths on the continent by the spring, in addition to the 1.5 million deaths already recorded.