COVID-19 vaccines may have saved millions of lives but they have not decisively reduced the spread of the virus, the World Health Organisation says.
The organisation therefore called on researchers to develop new vaccines that reduce infections – otherwise, there is still a risk that virus variants will develop against which the vaccines are less effective.
Vaccines that are easier to administer than before, such as nasal sprays, are also needed, the WHO said.
“Even where 70 per cent vaccination coverage is achieved, if significant numbers of health workers, older people and other at-risk groups remain unvaccinated, deaths will continue, health systems will remain under pressure and the global recovery will be at risk,” WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“Accumulated evidence indicates that existing vaccines provide only modest and relatively limited duration of protection against (COVID-19) infection,” a WHO report stated.
The WHO also updated its vaccination targets.
It now aims to double-vaccinate 100 per cent of health-care workers, people over 60 years of age and people who are particularly at risk due to pre-existing conditions in every country worldwide.
The previous target of vaccinating 70 per cent of all people in all countries by the middle of the year was missed.
By the end of June, only 58 countries had achieved this.
According to a study by Imperial College London published in The Lancet in June, almost 20 million lives have been saved by coronavirus vaccinations.
In poorer countries, however, only 28 per cent of the elderly and 37 per cent of health workers have been vaccinated.