WHO stresses the need to take measures such as physical distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask to curb the pandemic.
Collective immunity will not be achieved this year despite the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in a number of countries, the World Health Organization has warned.
Last month, the UK became the first country in the world to start giving its citizens a fully tested and tested COVID-19 vaccine.
Since then, more than 30 countries have rolled out their immunization programs.
“We will not achieve any level of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021,” WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told a briefing in Geneva on Monday.
“Even if it happens in a few pockets in a few countries, it won’t protect people around the world.”
Swaminathan stressed the need for governments and the population to keep moving forward and take measures such as physical distancing, hand washing and wearing masks to curb the pandemic.
She praised the “incredible progress” made by scientists who have achieved the unthinkable of developing not one but several safe and effective vaccines against a brand new virus in less than a year.
But, she said, deployment “takes time.”
“It takes time to increase the production of doses, not just in millions, but here we are talking in billions,” she stressed, calling on people to “be a little patient”.
But as new variants of the coronavirus have been discovered in the UK and South Africa, concerns are growing about the effectiveness of vaccines currently given against the mutations.
Origins of the virus
On Monday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said scientists in several countries would focus on how COVID-19 was first transmitted to people.
“Studies will begin in Wuhan to identify the potential source of infection of the first cases,” Tedros said.
China said the WHO team will arrive in the country on Thursday, but did not say whether its experts will travel to Wuhan where human cases of COVID-19 were first detected in 2019. .
More than 90 million people have been diagnosed with the virus in the past year and many countries are now in the throes of increasing outbreaks. Nearly two million people have died.