Director of the World Health Agency (WHO) recently confirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over and that protective measures must continue to be applied. Special Representative of the Regional Director of the WHO Europe, Erwin Cooreman, therefore, advises the population to receive the vaccine against COVID-19, as well as the vaccine against seasonal flu, and emphasizes that ‘the pandemic is still present, although in a different form’.
“We can see this in the number of new cases of infection. More than 2.6 million new cases were reported last week alone. The same trends related to new cases can be observed through other parameters, such as the number of deaths. In addition, we do not have complete data because many infected people are not registered for the simple reason that they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19,” Cooreman explains.
However, the good news is that, as he said, the WHO and local health institutions have a much better monitoring and reporting system than it was at the beginning.
“This allows us to have close supervision over the situation and react in time, when necessary,” he emphasized.
He adds that the pandemic is not over and we cannot allow ourselves to be completely relaxed, because we can jeopardize the progress that has been achieved so far.
“I am primarily referring to the protection of vulnerable groups such as the elderly, people with existing chronic conditions, pregnant women and healthcare workers. Those groups have a great chance of getting infected, going to the hospital or unfortunately dying as a result of COVID-19,” he said.
He emphasizes that vaccines are the strongest weapon we have at our disposal against COVID-19, especially in protecting vulnerable groups from serious consequences.
“The basic message is that if you need to receive a booster dose, please do so. But also, very important for this fall and winter, will be the flu vaccine,” he said.
We have come to understand since observing the situation, that preventive measures are not applied as before, and an increase in the number of cases of influenza has been noticed in Australia this year, where the highest number of cases in the last five years has been recorded.
“The conclusion that arises is logical – get vaccinated with a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but also with the flu vaccine. We must ensure that this message reaches all groups of society because only together we can make a positive shift and ensure a high rate of immunization in society,” Cooreman underlined.
In the case of mental health protection, especially for young people, Cooreman points out that the capacities of primary health care must be strengthened, but also the communities themselves, which must be able to recognize the problem and know how to react to it.
“The crisis we found ourselves in, during these last two years, taught us a valuable lesson, but also gave us an insight into where the health system is and where it should be. It is obvious that it must stand at the center of social activities, a strong pillar that will support and contribute to society in every crisis, thereby enabling society to cope with the crisis,” emphasized Cooreman in an interview with FENA.