Emergencies Program Director Michael Ryan of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on March 1 that it was “premature” and “unrealistic” to think that the COVID-19 pandemic will end this year.
During a press briefing, Ryan said that the pandemic will not end soon despite the roll-out of vaccines, but it could at least help with reducing hospitalizations and deaths.
“If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalization, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic,” Ryan further said.
Ryan said that emerging data showed that the vaccines have been making a difference in slowing down the spread of the virus, but he also said that nothing was guaranteed in an evolving epidemic.
“Right now, the virus is very much in control,” Ryan warned.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also reminded governments and individuals that “vaccines alone will not keep you safe.”
Tedros cited that the number of COVID-19 cases increased for the first time in seven weeks, describing the situation as “disappointing, but not surprising.”
Tedros said that WHO was working to understand the increase, but also said that the some of the cases appeared to be due to “relaxing of public health measures, continued circulation of variants, and people letting down their guard.”
“Vaccines will help to save lives, but if countries rely solely on vaccines, they’re making a mistake. Basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response.