As the highly contagious Delta variant of coronavirus disease is spreading rapidly across the globe, being vaccinated may not be enough, people must continue wearing masks, maintain social distancing and other Covid-appropriate behaviours, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
According to the global agency, the Delta variant (B16172), first detected in India in October last year, has now spread to at least 92 countries, CNBC reported. It is becoming the dominant variant of the disease worldwide.
"People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves," Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, was quoted as saying during a news briefing.
"Vaccine alone won't stop community transmission.
"People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene ... the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you're vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing," Simao said.
Meanwhile, according to new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4,100 people have been hospitalised or died with Covid-19 in the country, even after being fully vaccinated, the report said.
About 3,907 people were hospitalised with Covid after two-doses of vaccinations, but more than 1,000 of those patients were asymptomatic or their hospitalisations weren't related to Covid-19, the CDC said. Similarly, 142 of 750 deaths of fully vaccinated people after Covid, were asymptomatic or unrelated to Covid-19, according to the CDC data.
Even as Covid vaccines helped drive down the number of new infections and deaths, many countries, including the US and Israel, have largely done away with masks and pandemic-related restrictions.
Israel had lifted the mandate on masks on June 15, following one of the world' fastest successful vaccine roll out. However, about 50 per cent of vaccinated adults in the country have now been infected with the Delta variant, forcing it to re-impose wearing face masks indoors, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"Yes, you can reduce some measures and different countries have different recommendations in that regard. But there's still the need for caution," Bruce Aylward, a senior advisor to the WHO's director-general, was quoted as saying by CNBC.
"As we are seeing, there are new variants emerging," he said.
The WHO further said that there have been reports claiming that the Delta variant also causes more severe symptoms, but more research is needed to confirm those conclusions.
It has the potential "to be more lethal because it's more efficient in the way it transmits between humans and it will eventually find those vulnerable individuals who will become severely ill, have to be hospitalised and potentially die," Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies programme, had shared last week.