The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine should not mislead countries into undermining their efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, a senior World Health Organization official said Friday, citing fears the Brazil epidemic could spread to other countries.
“We think we’re through this. We’re not,” said Mike Ryan, WHO’s emergencies expert, at an online briefing. “The parties will return to jump three and four if we are not careful.”
Record deaths from COVID-19 were reported in Brazil this week and hospital systems are on the brink of collapse, in part because of the more contagious variant that was first identified there.
Read more: Covid variant in Brazil ‘may spread more easily
Globally, the number of COVID-19 cases reversed a six-week declining trend in the past week. Even though millions of vaccine doses have been given in recent weeks, according to WHO data.
“Now is not the time for Brazil or anywhere else for that matter to be relaxing, ” added Ryan. The arrival of vaccines is a moment of great hope but it is also potentially a moment where we lose concentration”.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Gebrees described the epidemic in Brazil as “very, very concerning” and warned of possible regional effects.
“If Brazil is not serious, then it will continue to affect all the neighborhood there and beyond,” he said.