Family members of Vijay Raju, who died of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), mourn before being cremated in a crematorium in the village of Giddenahalli on the outskirts of Bengaluru, India, on May 13, 2021.
Samuel Rajkumar | Reuters
The global pandemic is not over, despite high vaccination rates for Covid-19 in some countries, the World Health Organization head warned Monday, days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told fully vaccinated Americans that they would be in most places can do without masks.
“There is a tremendous hiatus where in some countries with the highest vaccination rates the pandemic appears to be over while others are experiencing large waves of infection,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference from the agency’s headquarters in genf.
“The pandemic is far from over,” he warned. “It won’t be over anywhere until it’s over everywhere.”
Tedros’ comments come four days after the CDC updated its public health guidelines to say that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face mask or stay 6 feet away in most environments, whether outdoors or indoors. It’s the first time the federal government has been encouraging people to stop wearing masks since the agency first called for face coverings more than a year ago.
Some doctors said the new guidelines mean “people who have been vaccinated can go back to normal”.
In the United States, new Covid-19 cases are on the decline as more Americans get vaccinated. As of Sunday, the nation is reporting about 33,200 new infections daily based on a 7-day average of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, a 19% decrease from the previous week. According to the CDC, around 123 million Americans are fully vaccinated.
Large outbreaks have now occurred in other countries. India, for example, reports an average of around 328,900 cases per day for seven days as of Sunday, according to Hopkins. That’s 15% fewer than a year ago, but still an enormous number of cases. The country also hit a new record for deaths, reporting a 7-day average of 4,039 deaths, according to Hopkins data.
Tedros said the agency has responded to the surge in Covid in India and other hot spots around the world. He said WHO needed immediate funding to maintain its technical and operational support to all countries, especially those hardest hit by the pandemic.
“The current response plan is underfunded and the vast majority of it is earmarked by donors for specific countries or activities,” he said.
He also urged Covid’s vaccine makers, including Pfizer and Moderna, to make more vaccines available to COVAX, which doses poorer countries.
“We need cans now and we urge them to move forward with deliveries as soon as possible,” he said.