MADRID, February 11. /TASS/. The spread of coronavirus strains will not spark a new pandemic wave, Regional Director for Europe at the World Health Organization Hans Kluge said in an interview with the Spanish El Pais newspaper on Thursday.
"New COVID-19 variants are a painful reminder that the virus is still hitting us," he said. "But this is not a new type of virus, it is a normal evolution of any pathogen that tries to adapt to its owner - a human." "This is not the start of a new pandemic, however, we definitely have to be very vigilant," Kluge went on to say.
According to Kluge, vigilance is essential in this situation as new COVID-19 strains can cause re-infection and a faster spread of the virus, making it rather challenging for some countries’ healthcare systems to cope with the pandemic.
"And finally, because they [new strains - TASS] can affect the vaccines efficiency," the WHO official noted. "We have faced it dealing with the common flu, there may be some variants of the virus that require a slightly different vaccine," Kluge explained. "We have to remain vigilant. If we have a faster virus spread and the increased mobility of vaccinated people, we are likely to have a rise in mortality," he stated.
"We have to be honest: 2021 will be another year of COVID-19, however, more manageable and more predictable," Kluge concluded.
Since the start of the pandemic, about 106.9 mln people have been infected with COVID-19 worldwide, while more than 2.3 mln have died.