The technical leader of Covid-19 at the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. María Van Kerkhove, insisted on the need to strengthen the vaccination of Covid-19 in the presence of new variants because “there is a big gap in the coverage of the booster,” since “only 58 percent of the world’s population is have a booster dose.”
Regarding the coverage of the vaccine, Dr. Kerkhove, during the WHO press conference this Thursday, that, although they do not have data from all countries, “the coverage of the first series worldwide is about 82 percent of the older groups” while, in the booster twelve, “this figure is about 58 percent, but in Africa it is only eight percent.”
“In the Eastern Mediterranean region the booster coverage is 27 percent, in Southeast Asia 30 percent, in the Americas 67 percent, in Europe 68 percent, and in the Western Pacific region 75 percent,” he explained, assuring that “there is a big gap in terms of booster coverage,” and that “those are the critical age groups that need these vaccines to prevent serious illness and death.”
Regarding the increase in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, Dr. Kerkhove that “there are many countries reporting an increase in the detection of cases and, what is more worrying, in many countries of America and Europe is seen. an increase in hospitalizations and admissions to ICU and vaccination, in addition to early diagnosis and early clinical care, can prevent serious illness and death.
For this reason, the specialist insisted that “it is not necessary to wait to be vaccinated, especially if you belong to a risk group, it is important to save people’s lives.”
“The virus is changing, the virus is changing, we continue our monitoring of the variants that are in circulation, the variant of interest, EG.5 is about 39 percent of the global sequences of this time and the variant of BA.2.86,” Which is a variant under monitoring, the numbers are still low,” warned the WHO expert.
Vaccines are adapted to new variants of Covid-19
Regarding the possibility of being vaccinated with a vaccine adapted to new variants such as the first monovalent XBB vaccines in the United States and the European Union, “in 10 days the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization will meet to evaluating the use of the monovalent XBB vaccine.”
Likewise, he emphasized that “they also study the priority groups” and that, “without a doubt they will strengthen the message of vaccination in these populations and again in the vaccinated population.”
“However, the message is very clear: vaccination with any available Covid-19 vaccines when people are at risk of severe illness and death should not be delayed while these new vaccines are developed,” he warned.