Germany’s top disease control official says a third wave of coronavirus has already begun in the country.
Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, said he was very worried and that there were clear signs the third wave has already started in Germany.
Thursday marks one year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic.
It is still urgently necessary to remain strict when it comes to protective measures such as mask-wearing and keeping a distance despite vaccinations having begun, Wieler told UN journalists in Geneva on Wednesday.
The vaccine campaign is a race against the mutating virus, but the finish line is in sight, he said.
If there are no interruptions, for example from production downtimes, 80 percent of Germany’s population could be immune to the virus by autumn.
If that happens, all measures can be lifted, Wieler said.
On the day the pandemic was declared, 118,000 infections and almost 4,300 deaths had been recorded worldwide. A year later, WHO statistics show almost 120 million infections and some 2.6 million deaths.
The WHO’s biggest concern is the unequal distribution of vaccines.
If the virus spreads unhindered in some parts of the world, mutations and variants can pose a threat everywhere, as WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly warned.
Since wealthier countries have direct contracts with vaccine manufacturers, fewer doses are available on the market for the UN-backed vaccine solidarity alliance Covax.
An eighth attempt at the World Trade Organization to demand that more than 100 countries temporarily suspend patents on coronavirus vaccines to boost production failed on Wednesday.