On January 13, 2021, employees in the mourning hall of the crematorium in Meißen [East Germany] are storing coffins, some of which are marked with "risk of infection" while others are scrawled in chalk, amid the new pandemic of the coronavirus COVID-19. Cremation.
Jens Schlueter | AFP | Getty Images
The World Health Organization said Friday that coronavirus vaccines are not "silver bullets" and that it has harmed nations to rely on them solely to fight the pandemic.
Some countries in Europe, Africa and America are seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases "because we are not generally able to break the chains of transmission at the community level or in households," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a message Conference from the agency's headquarters in Geneva.
With 2 million deaths around the world and the spread of new virus variants in multiple countries, world leaders must do whatever it takes to contain infection "through best public health measures," Tedros said. "There is only one way out of this storm and that is to share the tools we have and to use them together."
The coronavirus has infected more than 93.3 million people worldwide and killed at least 2 million people since the pandemic began about a year ago. This is based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The virus continues to accelerate in some regions, and countries are reporting that their oxygen supplies are "dangerously low" for Covid-19 patients, the WHO said.
Some countries, including the US, have focused heavily on the use of vaccines to control their outbreaks. While vaccines are a useful tool, they won't end the pandemic on their own, Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, told the news conference.
"We warned in 2020 that if we relied solely on vaccines as the only solution, we could lose the very controlled measures that were available to us at the time. And I think so to some extent is the case, "said Ryan. The addition of the colder seasons and recent holidays may also have played a role in spreading the virus.
"Much of the transmission has happened because we are reducing our physical distance … We are not breaking the chains of transmission. The virus is taking advantage of our lack of tactical commitment," he added. "We're not doing as well as we could."
Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to the WHO Director General, echoed Ryan's comments, saying vaccines are not "silver bullets".
"It can get worse, the numbers can go up," he said. We have vaccines, yes. However, we have limited stocks of vaccines that are slowly being introduced around the world. And vaccines aren't perfect. They don't protect everyone from every situation. "
In the United States, the vaccination rate is slower than officials hoped. More than 31.1 million vaccine doses had been distributed in the U.S. by 6 a.m. on Friday, but just over 12.2 million vaccinations had been given, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The cases are now increasing rapidly. The United States records at least 238,800 new Covid-19 cases and at least 3,310 virus-related deaths every day, based on a 7-day average calculated by CNBC using Johns Hopkins data.
On Thursday President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a comprehensive plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. While his government will invest billions in a vaccine campaign, it will, among other things, expand testing, invest in new treatments, and work to identify new strains.