WHO Europe says COVID-19 vaccines appear protective against variants

FILE PHOTO: World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge. /Getty Images

FILE PHOTO: World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge. /Getty Images

The World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe on Thursday said COVID-19 vaccines currently being employed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic across the continent appear able to protect against all variants that are circulating and causing concern.

European countries are rolling out a number of vaccines from various pharmaceutical companies, among them Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

“All COVID-19 virus variants that have emerged so far do respond to the available, approved vaccines,” Hans Kluge said during a media briefing.

Kluge appealed to health officials to remain vigilant on the rising number of cases in the region of COVID-19 caused by the COVID-19 variant that was first detected in India.

He, however, also stressed that vaccination and infection control measures would help prevent the spread of the variant.

“We are still learning about the new variant, but it is able to spread rapidly,” he said.

According to Kluge, the variant, known as B.1.617, has spread to at least 26 countries out of the 53 in the WHO’s European Region.

He noted that the variant first detected in India, in theory, could spread fast enough to displace the one which was first detected in the UK late last year and has since become the dominant version of the virus in the continent.

Kluge added the WHO’s regional office was cautiously optimistic to see the COVID-19 epidemic in the region declining.

(With input from Reuters) 

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