Although Covid-19 restrictions have eased completely in the UK, the World Health Organisation has warned that the pandemic will likely drag on into 2022 and could last even longer due to a low average of vaccination rates across the world
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the coronavirus pandemic will likely drag on into 2022, due to a lack of vaccinations across the world, particularly in poorer countries.
Dr Bruce Aylward, senior leader at the WHO, said: “I can tell you we’re not on track. We really need to speed it up or you know what? This pandemic is going to go on for a year longer than it needs to.”
The problem has arisen due to the lack of vaccinations in low-income countries, while high income countries have far higher vaccination rates.
High income countries like the UK are supposed to be donating to poorer states and have pledged a total of 100 million, but has so far only delivered 10 million.
Coming out of the pandemic is not only vital for people’s general health and well-being, but to the economy and certain sectors that were hit hard when restrictions to work against the spreading of the virus came in.
Why might the pandemic continue?
AFP via Getty Images)
One of the reasons why the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing could be the fact that less economically developed countries with high populations are lagging behind when it comes to the vaccine.
Some experts argue that without mass vaccinations across the world, the virus will be able to mutate to the point where the original vaccinations become obsolete, though this is typically difficult to predict.
Experts told Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review : “If countries with large populations wait to be vaccinated for years, the virus will keep mutating—potentially to the point that the first available vaccines lose effectiveness. That will be bad for everyone, but poorer countries, with less access to updated vaccines, will again feel more of the impact.”
United States President Joe Biden said: “To beat the pandemic here, we need to beat it everywhere.”
The ‘Covax pool’ was meant to counteract this and make sure that countries who could not afford the vaccines had access to them, through subsidised costs. But some countries, like the UK and Canada have used to pool to get their own vaccines despite having their own contracts with major pharmaceuticals.
Under 3% of the population of Africa has been vaccinated.
In the UK
Adam Gerrard / Sunday Mirror)
In recent months, many in the UK have deemed the pandemic to be coming to an end. Bars and restaurants have reopened and with vaccinations now widespread, nights out and indulgences in recreational activities have felt like pre-pandemic days.
Over 49 million people in the UK have received at least their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 45 million their second dose. Vaccinations are now available for children over 12.
But with cases on the rise in the UK (there are currently over 40,000 daily cases), the problem at home has risen to the point where health experts are advising the government reimpose some lockdown restrictions, known as ‘ Plan B ‘.
Covid-19 cases have the potential to overwhelm the NHS and stop patients with other ailments from receiving the care they need.
NHS Confederation boss Matthew Taylor, which represents the healthcare systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said: “We are right on the edge – and it is the middle of October. It would require an incredible amount of luck for us not to find ourselves in the midst of a profound crisis over the next three months.”
What is Plan B?
Plan B is the government’s contingency plan for winter that would reintroduce some social distancing measures by asking people to work form home, reintroducing masks and working from home, as well as some events requiring vaccine passports.
It would be a set back for business recovering from the pandemic, particularly those that were most affected such as hospitality, bars and restaurants and the air travel sector.
The government has so far remained resolute in rejecting calls for the measure and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This time last year we didn’t have the vaccine. We don’t want to go back into lockdown and further restrictions.”
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: “As you know it’s something we’re keeping a very close eye on because of the strength of our genomic capability we are able to keep a very close watch on any variants that are emerging.”
However, during the height of the pandemic, the government became known for U-turns on such policies.
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