Emphasizing that the COVID-19 transmission will be here for a long time, WHO senior official Poonam Khetrapal Singh explained, “The level of immunity in a community, through vaccination and previous infection, will determine whether it will become endemic in the long run”.
Endemic means when the population learns to live with the virus, it is the next step of an epidemic when the virus overpower the population. The regional director of WHO, South-East Asia region further stated that there is a need to get to a situation where “we are fully in control of the virus, and not the virus in control of us”.
According to Singh in the future, a community where more people were previously infected and where vaccination coverage is high is expected to be less impacted by other populations.
Further, Singh said, “ The COVID-19 virus is expected to continue to transmit for a long time. A variety of factors will decide whether the virus will become endemic in the long run, which determines by the level of immunity of people through vaccination and previous infection”.
While discussing the role of booster doses to tackle low immunity, Singh pointed out that cases and deaths in all countries are predominantly being driven by unvaccinated people. She said, “Using vaccines for booster doses constricts supply to countries where millions are still waiting for their first dose”.
Until the end of 2021 WHO has called for a time-limited moratorium on COVID-19 booster doses. We are not safe until everybody is safe. This limited-time moratorium on COVID-19 booster allows at least 40 percent of the population of each country including health workers and those who are at utmost risk. However, there is still no way to prevent the COVID-19 transmission.
“Against severe disease, there is no evidence of COVID-19 vaccine efficacy. However, WHO has not ruled out that booster for some population groups may be warranted in the future. Boosters will be still evolving and will be guided by the scientific evidence”. Singh said.
As per Singh, to minimize deaths, hospitalization tragedy, and social loss we have to continue to take precautions because now eradication is unlikely.
Referring to the probability of a third COVID wave Singh said how intense it will all depend on us. If people and the community continue to take precautions in the best manner and continue to vaccinate the whole population as soon as possible then the virus can be less effective.
Singh said that there will be a need for equity in the vaccination process globally. She also praises India’s decision to restart its export of the COVID-19 vaccine. There is a need for vaccines in the middle-income countries that are lagging behind in vaccinating their all population. Only equal vaccine distribution can help in check the other variant of the virus by halting the spread.
She also pointed out that pandemic gives all countries to strengthen their health system. It’s a “once-in-a-century-opportunities”. We have to achieve and ensure universal health coverage and security. This pandemic is also a lesson for the world to build a strong health system that is accessible for all the population. This virus taught us that if one is not safe then everybody is at risk. The COVID-19 transmission has to be stopped.