WHO says vaccination alone not enough to curb current pandemic
As the world battles to contain the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa regional office has cautioned that the threat of a third wave in Africa is not farfetched.
This warning is primed on records of upsurge in cases of COVID-19 infections across certain countries in the continent amid thriving conspiracy theories that have resulted in various degrees of hesitancy among the people.
In a virtual press conference on COVID19 on the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and Ebola outbreaks in Africa hosted by the WHO African Regional Office on Thursday, Dr Salam Gueye, Director of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Cluster at WHO Regional Office for Africa said, although figures have not suggested a third wave, reliance on vaccination alone may not stop it.
According to him, the current doses of vaccines for vaccination is insignificant when compared to the actual number of people that are in need of it in Africa, hence the need for countries to continue and possibly improve on current public health interventions being used to prevent the spread.
Similarly, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa stated that there are mounting cases of COVID-19 in some African countries, giving credence to the fear of a third wave of the pandemic in the region.
Dr. Moeti noted that the festivities and events linked to elections across the continent caused a spike in cases, especially in countries like Ghana, Ethiopia, Cameroon, among others that hosted elections during the pandemic.
She said the WHO is willing to support Burundi and Tanzania, two countries that are yet to get on board the vaccination train in Africa.
According to her, the WHO is particularly impressed that Tanzania has declared COVID-19 a national health issue, adding that the body is willing to support the country’s efforts towards curtailing the pandemic.
Africa is poised to surpass 4 million COVID-19 infections by end of this week, prompting calls for countries to employ interventions that are beyond just vaccination.
In this regard, the WHO Regional Director for Africa has said public health practices like washing of hands with soap and water, social distancing and other measures that have been established to be relevant in control of COVID-19 spread must be sustained by all countries.