A highly contagious variant of COVID-19 spreading rapidly among people aged 12 to 20 in the United Kingdom had President Joe Biden urging young Americans to get vaccinated on Tuesday.
Britain has been looking at a recent uptick in cases attributed largely to an increase in cases linked to the so-called delta variant, which originally appeared in India — a former British colony.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead on COVID-19, noted that the delta variant is spreading in more than 60 countries, and is more transmissible than the alpha variant – which first emerged in Britain.
“If you’re young and haven’t gotten your shot yet, it really is time,” he said. “It’s the best way to protect yourself and those you love.”
The emergencies chief of the United Nations health agency said COVID-19 vaccination coverage of over 80% percent is needed to significantly lower the chance that an imported coronavirus case could generate new cases or spawn a wider outbreak.
Dr. Michael Ryan of the WHO said that ultimately, “high levels of vaccination coverage are the way out of this pandemic.”
His comments in Geneva to reporters on Monday come as rich nations with access to vaccines are facing pressure from WHO and many global health advocates to share more doses with developing countries that are gravely lacking in access to them.