COVID-19 infections are rising again because the virus is continually mutating, staying a step ahead of efforts to stop it, a World Health Organization (WHO) envoy has said.
“The reason why we’ve got an increase is it’s changed yet again, and it’s become too clever for us,” Dr. David Nabarro, special envoy on COVID-19 for the WHO, said on Thursday in an interview with the UK’s Sky News.
“It can break past our immune defenses, and that’s why the numbers are going up.”
People have largely stopped taking precautions against the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing face coverings, which is contributing to increasing infections, Nabarro said.
- “My advice to everyone is please, this virus hasn’t gone away. It’s not killing so many people, but it is really unpleasant, especially if you get long COVID.”
Nabarro, who urged people to “respect the virus,” made his comments two days after the WHO’s director called for governments around the world to bring back masking and social-distancing mandates.
“The virus is running freely, and countries are not effectively managing the disease,” WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in a weekly briefing.
More than 5.7 million new COVID-19 infections were reported globally last week, up 6% from the previous week, but deaths remained down sharply from last year’s levels.
Global COVID-19 deaths totaled about 9,800 last week, down 82% from a year earlier.
Nabarro also touted the success of COVID-19 vaccines and urged people to keep their shots up to date.
- However, chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, who caught the virus last month, conceded in a Fox News interview on Tuesday that vaccines aren’t stopping COVID-19 from spreading.
- “Even though vaccines, because of the high degree of transmissibility of this virus, don’t protect overly well, as it were, against infection, they protect quite well against severe disease leading to hospitalization and death,” Fauci said. He added that even though vaccines didn’t protect him against infection, he believes they helped prevent him from suffering severe symptoms.