Last month, the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to start managing its citizens with a fully tried and tested COVID-19 vaccine.
Since then, more than 30 countries have launched their vaccination programs.
“We will not achieve any levels of population or herd immunity in 2021,” WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told a news briefing in Geneva on Monday.
“Even if it happened in a few pockets in a few countries, it wouldn’t protect people all over the world.”
Swaminathan stressed the need for governments and people to continue to move forward and take measures such as physical distancing, washing hands and wearing masks to curb the epidemic.
She praised the “amazing progress” made by scientists who have managed to develop not one but several safe and effective vaccines against a completely new virus in less than a year.
But she emphasized that the implementation “takes time” to start.
She pointed out that “expanding the production of doses takes time, not only in the millions, but here we are talking about billions,” calling on people to “be patient a little.”
But with the discovery of new types of Coronavirus in the United Kingdom and South Africa, concerns are growing about whether the vaccines currently being given will be effective against mutations.
The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Monday that scientists from several countries will focus on how Covid-19 first jumped to people.
Tedros said: “Studies will begin in Wuhan to determine the possible source of infection in early cases.”
On Monday, China said that the World Health Organization (WHO) team will arrive in the country on Thursday, but did not specify whether its experts will travel to Wuhan where human cases of COVID-19 were detected for the first time in 2019.
More than 90 million people were diagnosed with the virus over the past year and many countries are now in the grip of an expanding outbreak. Almost two million people died.