Despite vaccines, no Covid herd immunity in 2021: WHO
Despite vaccines against Covid-19 being rolled out in a number of countries, the World Health Organization warned Monday that herd immunity would not be achieved this year.
AFP: Countries across the globe are looking forward to vaccines finally allowing a return to normality in the months ahead.
But the WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan warned that it will take time to produce and administer enough doses to halt the spread of the virus.
“We are not going to achieve any levels of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021,” she told a virtual press briefing from WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, stressing the need to continue measures like physical distancing, hand washing and mask wearing to rein in the pandemic.
She hailed the “incredible progress” made by scientists who managed the unthinkable of developing not one but several safe and effective vaccines against a brand new virus in under a year.
But, she stressed, the rollout “does take time.”
“It takes time to scale the production of doses, not just in the millions, but here we are talking about in the billions,” she pointed out, calling on people to “be a little bit patient.”
Swaminathan stressed that eventually, “the vaccines are going to come. They are going to go to all countries.”
“But meanwhile we mustn’t forget that there are measures that work,” she said.
There would be a need to continue taking the public health and social measures aimed at halting transmission for “the rest of this year at least.”
Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.
As the World Health Organization warned that global herd immunity would not be achieved in 20201, Moderna Inc said that immunity from those who are given the company’s Covid-19 vaccine should last at least a year.
The drugmaker said it was confident that the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology it used was well suited to deploy a vaccine based on the new variant of the coronavirus which has emerged in a handful of countries.
More on this shortly. In the meantime here are the key developments from the last few hours:
- Portugal’s president tests positive for Covid-19. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who is seeking a second term in an election on 24 January, has tested positive for the coronavirus but has so far shown no symptoms, his office said.
- ‘Reckless’ Christmas rule relaxation blamed for Ireland’s dire Covid surge. The country has the world’s highest rate of infection with critics blaming socialising over festive period.
- Lebanon tightens Covid-19 restrictions as infections skyrocket. Lebanon has tightened coronavirus measures by imposing a total lockdown for an 11-day period and introducing new travel restrictions to stem an unprecedented rise in infections.
- Spain sees record weekend rise in infections. Spain reported a record rise in coronavirus infections over the weekend and the number of new cases measured over the past 14 days rose to 436 per 100,000 people on Monday, from 350 on Friday.
- Verdict unlikely from WHO team exploring Covid origins in China. Expectations should be set very low that a World Health Organization team of experts investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic will reach any definitive conclusion from their first trip to China, a health expert affiliated with the WHO has said.
- US lawmaker tests positive for Covid-19 after Capitol siege. A 75-year-old US lawmaker has tested positive for Covid-19 after being locked down to avoid a mob attacking the US Capitol last week, saying she believed she was exposed while sheltering in place with maskless colleagues.
- CDC says nine million Americans now vaccinated. The 8,987,322 people who have been given the first of two shots, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, represent less than one third of the total doses distributed to states by the government.
- Two gorillas at San Diego Zoo test positive for Covid-19. The animals tested positive for the coronavirus after exhibiting symptoms of the disease, in what is believed to be the first known transmission of the virus to apes.
- Dubai removed from UK’s travel corridor list. Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Monday the United Arab Emirates is being taken off the list and anyone arriving from the country from 4am on Tuesday will be subject to the new restrictions.