The world “won’t get back to normal quickly” by just embracing a herd immunity strategy after the rollout of Covid-19 vaccination programs, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Dr. Dale Fisher has warned.
The remarks were made at the Reuters Next conference, at which health experts debated which would be most successful in containing the virus in the immediate term: the coronavirus vaccine rollout or maintaining social distancing measures.
“We know we need to get to herd immunity, and we need that in a majority of countries, so we are not going to see that in 2021,” warned Dr. Fisher, chair of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. He added that, while some nations might achieve it, the world “won’t get back to normal quickly.”
Fisher also raised concerns about the potential of the virus mutating further, negatively impacting the effectiveness of vaccines and setting back the fight against the disease. He highlighted the importance of having a multipronged approach to fighting Covid-19.
University of Indonesia epidemiologist Pandu Riono urged governments to deliver a package of Covid-19 measures, including mass testing, educating the public, and social distancing restrictions, as “the vaccine itself needs time to cover most of the people who need it” before there can be any return to a pre-pandemic scenario.
There have been almost 90 million confirmed infections and around two million deaths globally from the virus since the start of the pandemic over a year ago, according to data collected by the WHO. Countries across the world have begun the rollout of a number of vaccines to counter the disease, including Russia’s Sputnik V and those produced by AstraZeneca/Oxford University, Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Sinovac.