The head of the EU’s disease control agency warned Friday (Feb 12) that the novel coronavirus could last indefinitely even as global infections slowed by nearly half in the last month and vaccine rollouts gathered pace in parts of the world.
In an interview with AFP news agency, ECDC chief Andrea Ammon urged European countries in particular not to drop their guard against a virus that “seems very well adapted to humans” and may require experts to tweak vaccines over time, as is the case with the seasonal flu.
“So we should be prepared that it will remain with us,” according to Ammon, head of the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
After the latest harsh wave of a pandemic that started in China more than a year ago, glimmers of hope flickered as an AFP database showed the rate of new Covid-19 infections has slowed by 44.5 percent worldwide over the past month.
More than 107 million people have been infected worldwide and nearly 2.4 million have died from Covid-19.
But disease experts warned that vaccines won’t end the pandemic unless all countries receive doses in a fast and fair manner.
Writing in an open letter published in the Lancet medical journal, the authors said with vaccine stockpiling in wealthier countries, “it could be years before the coronavirus is brought under control at a global level.”
The warning came as US vaccine maker Moderna said it was seeking clearance with regulators around the world to put 50 percent more coronavirus vaccine into each of its vials as a way to quickly boost current supply levels.
In Britain, a marked drop in infections and accelerating vaccinations have prompted some within the governing Conservative Party to push for stay-at-home rules to be lifted in early March.
Much of the country re-entered lockdown in early January to curb a more transmissible Covid-19 variant first identified in the UK.
The British government nonetheless voiced caution, a watchword echoed elsewhere, including Italy, Portugal and Australia.