WHO urges collaboration to speed up Europe vaccinations



Europe and pharma groups must work together to speed up Covid-19 vaccinations, the head of the European branch of the World Health Organization said Friday, expressing concern about the effectiveness of vaccines on virus variants.

“We need to join up to speed up vaccinations,” WHO Europe director Hans Kluge told AFP in an interview, as Europe bids to overcome a slow start to its vaccination campaign amid tensions between Brussels and vaccine manufacturers.

“Otherwise competing pharmaceutical companies (must) join efforts to drastically increase production capacity … that’s what we need,” Kluge said.

In the European Union, just 2.5 percent of the population has received a first vaccine dose, though announcements by several laboratories of increased vaccine deliveries have raised hopes of an acceleration.

Asked whether the vaccines available since December would be effective against new virus variants, Kluge replied: “That’s the big question. I’m concerned.”

“We have to be prepared” for new problematic mutations of the virus, he warned, calling on countries to expand their genomic sequencing capacity.

“It’s a cruel reminder that the virus still has the upper hand on the human being.”

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