The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on governments to step up efforts in curbing the transmission of the coronavirus.
This comes amid concerns of a new strain of the virus that has been identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Speaking during a press briefing on Monday, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom indicated that the organization was working with scientists to understand how these genetic changes affect how the virus behaves.
“The UK has reported that this new variant transmits more easily but there is no evidence so far that it is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality. The bottom line is that we need to suppress transmission of all SARS-COV-2 viruses as quickly as we can,” Dr Tedros said.
A number of countries closed their borders to Britain on Monday over fears of a highly infectious new coronavirus strain, heightening global panic and causing travel chaos.
Dr Tedros indicated that while it is normal for viruses to mutate, more work needs to be done on curbing its spread.
“The more we allow it to spread, the more opportunity it has to change. I can’t stress enough, to all governments and all people, how important it is to take the necessary precautions to limit transmission right now,” he said.
On the COVID-19 vaccine situation, WHO indicated that an estimated $4.6 billion in additional funding will be required in 2021 for purchase of vaccines for at least 20 percent of the world’s population.
This comes even as Dr Tedros noted with concern that the nationalization process of vaccine distribution could hamper progress on dealing with the pandemic.
“Vaccines are offering hope for some, but I am deeply concerned that vaccine nationalism will deprive the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people of these life-saving tools. Now is the time for political commitment to be translated into action,” the WHO boss said.