As masks come off for vaccinated Americans in the U.S. and vaccination rates climb in many parts of the world, the World Health Organization is concerned that people may begin to think the pandemic has ended and has issued a warning to remind them that pandemic is far from over.
“There is a huge disconnect growing where in some countries with the highest vaccination rates, there appears to be a mindset that the pandemic is over, while others are experiencing huge waves of infections,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a news conference Monday.
Ghebreyesus said the pandemic “is a long way far from over” and that “it will not be over anywhere until it’s over everywhere.”
The warning from the WHO comes just four days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its mask guidelines for Americans that are fully vaccinated. On Thursday, the agency said that fully vaccinated people could go indoors and outdoors, in most places, without wearing a face mask.
The CDC also said that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to socially distance in most settings – coming more than a year after the agency issued the recommendation to people to wear face coverings during the COVID crisis.
The news of the rollback on face mask requirements for fully vaccinated Americans comes as over 123.2 million people have been vaccinated as of Monday, accounting for 37.1% of the nation’s population.
The number of new daily positive COVID cases has also dropped, with about 33,200 new infections being reported, based on a seven-day average from data from Johns Hopkins University. To date, the U.S. has reported over 32.9 million positive coronavirus cases, with over 586,000 COVID-19 deaths.
But Tedros warned that “Even some places that have previously done very well at containing COVID-19 are seeing dramatic increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
“New variants of concern, fragile health systems, reduced implementation of public health measures and supply shortages of oxygen, dexamethasone and vaccines are all compounding the current situation.”
Tedros called on vaccine manufacturers to provide more doses to vaccinate the world’s adult population as quickly as possible, acknowledging that the pandemic, as a global issue. He also requested that high-income countries share their vaccine supply.
He added: “No one is safe until we’re all safe.”