The Pan American Health Organisation has warned that COVID-19 vaccines by themselves, will not halt the current COVID-19 surge.
According to PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne there are not enough vaccines available to protect everyone in highest risk countries.
As a result, she has urged countries to employ a “comprehensive strategy”.
Etienne said during her weekly media briefing that the strategy should involve not only immunisation but also public health measures.
“I cannot stress this enough – for most countries, vaccines are not going to stop this wave,” Etienne declared.
“Therefore, we need to stop transmission by any means possible with the tools we have at hand,” she stated.
“This will require comprehensive strategies to both accelerate the rollout of vaccines and control the virus using proven public health measures,” she added.
She was referring to wearing masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene.
PAHO says since March, its Revolving Fund has helped deliver more than 3 million doses of COVAX-procured vaccines.
Twenty-eight countries benefitted.
And so far in the Americas, countries have administered more than 247 million COVID-19 vaccines.
The countries obtained some of their vaccines through deals they made individually with vaccine producers.
Nevertheless, the PAHO Director cautioned that the pandemic continues to surge across the Americas.
In the past week, more than 1.3 million people came down with the virus.
And nearly 36,000 people died from the disease
“Since the pandemic began, 57 million cases have been reported in the Americas,” Etienne reported.
She also said there have been more than 1.3 million deaths.
“We are not acting like a region in the midst of a worsening outbreak,” Etienne warned.
In this regard, she observed that despite ongoing transmission in many places, restrictions have relaxed.
“Crowds are back, and people are gathering indoors and taking public transportation, often without masks,” she continued.
In addition, the PAHO director disclosed that new, highly transmissible variants are also fueling acceleration.
Headline photo caption: PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne