Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist at the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), warned Monday that the pandemic is not over and said it is not yet time to return to normal and “encourage a lot of social mixing.”
Speaking to CNN on Monday, Swaminathan warned of the virus variants and emphasized the importance of realizing that the pandemic “is not over.”
“Everyone should recognize that this pandemic is not over. … It’s not that we can’t travel or do anything, but this is really not the time for us to encourage a lot of social mixing, to encourage mass events, especially without precautions, wherever you live in the world because these variants, you know, they travel around the world even before you recognize there’s a new variant,” she said, urging people to remain “very cautious.”
“I think this is the time still to be very cautious and we should remember that a large part of the world still doesn’t have enough vaccines even to protect their most vulnerable people, and we need to be getting vaccines out to them,” she continued, noting that some vaccinated people will end up in the hospital due to the variant virus spread but assuring that “the majority of vaccinated people who get the infection will be mild, will be asymptomatic, is not going to require this kind of intensive care that we’ve seen.”
Last week, W.H.O. officials began urging vaccinated individuals to wear masks again over variant concerns.
W.H.O director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday said the rise of virus variants makes it “even more urgent that we use all the tools at our disposal.”
According to CNN, the rise of the Delta variant could have Biden administration officials rethinking public health measures, as some localities, such as Los Angeles County, are already taking matters into their own hands, reinstituting mask recommendations, even for vaccinated individuals.
The CDC currently classifies the Delta variant as one of “concern,” which it defines as a variant “for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths), significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.”