WHO Europe: Vaccine manufacturing delays are an actual subject
A top European official with the World Health Organization says national tensions are erupting over the slow roll-out of coronavirus vaccines, but production lag issues are real and world leaders need to realize that “no one is safe until everyone is safe”.
January 28, 2021, 2:18 p.m.
3 min read
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterSend this article via email
GENEVA – National tensions are erupting over the slow roll-out of coronavirus vaccines, but production lag issues are real and world leaders need to realize that “no one is safe until everyone is safe,” the European head of the World Health Organization said on on Thursday.
Dr. Hans Kluge said international solidarity in the fight against the virus, which has already killed 2.1 million people, is “key” while heightening the tensions between that broader goal and the responsibility of every leader to protect his own people felt, noted.
Kluge said he spoke to EU President Charles Michel and EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, citing a “general goodwill” and an “understanding that nobody is safe until everyone is safe”. However, the reality is that realistically, there is currently a shortage of vaccines. “
“The phone line is very hot, as you can imagine,” Kluge told reporters at a video press conference from WHO’s European headquarters in Copenhagen, alluding to European leaders. “We stand by them and understand the situation.”
Dr. Siddhartha Datta, WHO European Program Manager for Vaccine Preventable Diseases and Vaccination, identified “production barriers” and supply problems at both AstraZeneca and Pfizer. He noted that there is always an “initial teething period for vaccine adoption and production”. The EU alone has 450 million inhabitants, Great Britain 67 million, Russia and the former Soviet states over 290 million.
“Nobody can deliver that full amount of vaccination alone,” he said.
According to Kluge, 35 of the 53 countries in the WHO European Region have started vaccinations and given 25 million doses. He said widespread lockdowns helped limit the spread of the coronavirus and resulted in a “significant decrease in 14-day cumulative incidence” in 30 of those countries – more than two weeks ago in seven countries.
“Still, transmission rates across Europe are still very high, which is affecting health systems and the burden on services, making it too early to relax,” he said.
Dr. Catherine Smallwood, the agency’s chief emergency officer, said efforts to lower virus transmission rates were “a bit like stopping a fast-moving train” and that sweeping restrictive measures like school closings may be necessary. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that schools in England would be closed until at least March 8th.
“When that train – transmission – gets slow and slow and slow, we can begin to get more specific and more efficiently control the ways we control the spread of the disease,” Smallwood said.
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak