The World Health Organisation’s emergencies chief has mentioned that the affect of recent variants of COVID-19 in locations like Britain, South Africa and Brazil stays to be seen, citing human habits for some current rises in an infection counts.
“It’s just too easy to lay the blame on the variant and say, ‘It’s the virus that did it,’” Dr Michael Ryan instructed reporters on Friday. “Well unfortunately, it’s also what we didn’t do that did it.” That was an allusion to vacation merrymaking and different social contacts plus loosening adherence — in pockets — to calls from public well being officers for individuals to respect measures like bodily distancing, common hand hygiene and mask-wearing.
Also Friday, the WHO’s Emergencies Committee issued new suggestions that international locations shouldn’t require proof of vaccination by incoming travellers amid the pandemic, saying choices on worldwide journey ought to be coordinated, restricted in time, and based mostly on each the dangers and the science.
“If you look at the recommendation made by the committee around vaccination for travelers, it says ‘at the present time,’” Ryan mentioned. He identified that such suggestions famous that vaccines are nonetheless not widespread and that it stays unclear whether or not they stop transmission between individuals.
The suggestions got here after the committee’s first assembly in practically three months. To little shock, the panel agreed that the outbreak stays a world well being emergency, practically a yr after it declared it as one.
The recommendation comes as international locations grapple with how one can fight the brand new variants which have fanned considerations about an accelerated unfold of the virus — and have prompted new lockdown measures in hard-hit locations like Europe.
The British authorities has banned journey from South America and Portugal — a key gateway of flights from Brazil — to attempt to maintain the variant in Brazil from reaching Britain and derailing its vaccination program.
The committee mentioned it could encourage states “to implement coordinated, time-limited and evidence-based approaches for health measures in relation to international travel.” It additionally known as on vaccine producers to make information in regards to the merchandise extra out there to the WHO, saying delays can have an effect on its potential to supply emergency-use listings that would enable for “equitable vaccine access.”