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Immunized but banned: EU says not all COVID vaccines equal

Immunized but banned: EU says not all COVID vaccines equal

LONDON — After Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor and his wife received two doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in Nigeria, they assumed they would be free to travel this summer to a European destination of their choice. They were wrong.The couple — and millions of other people who have been vaccinated through a U.N.-backed effort — could find themselves barred from entering many European and other countries because those nations don’t recognize the Indian-made version of the vaccine for travel.Although AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Europe has been authorized by the continent’s drug regulatory agency, the same shot manufactured in India hasn’t been given the green light.EU regulators said AstraZeneca hasn’t completed the necessary paperwork on the Indian factory, including details on its production practices and quality control standards.But some experts describe the EU move as discriminatory and unscientific, pointing out that the World Health Organization has inspected and approved the factory. Health officials say the situation won’t only complicate travel and frustrate fragile economies but also undermine vaccine confidence by appearing to label some shots substandard.As vaccination coverage rises across Europe and other rich countries, authorities anxious to salvage the summer tourism season are increasingly relaxing coronavirus border restrictions.Earlier this month, the European Union introduced its digital COVID-19 certificate, which allows EU residents to move freely in the 27-nation bloc as long as they have been vaccinated with one of the four shots authorized by the European Medicines Agency, have a fresh negative test, or have proof they recently recovered from the virus.While the U.S. and Britain remain largely closed to outside visitors, the EU certificate is seen as a potential model for travel in the COVID-19 era and a way to boost economies.The officially EU-endorsed vaccines also include those made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. They don’t include the AstraZeneca shot made in India or many other vaccines used in developing countries, including those manufactured in China and Russia.Individual EU countries are free to apply their own rules for travelers from inside and outside the bloc, and their rules vary widely, creating further confusion for tourists. Several EU countries, including Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, allow people to enter if they have had non-EU-endorsed vaccines; several others, including France and Italy, don’t.For Nsofor, the realization he could be barred was “a rude awakening.” After a tough year of working during the pandemic in Abuja, Nsofor and his wife were looking forward to a European vacation with their two young daughters, perhaps admiring the Eiffel Tower in Paris or touring Salzburg in Austria.Nsofor noted that the Indian-made vaccine he received had been authorized by WHO for emergency use and had been supplied through COVAX, the U.N.-backed program to provide shots to poor corners of the world. WHO’s approval included a visit to the Serum Institute of India factory to ensure that it had good manufacturing practices and that quality control standards were met.“We’re grateful to the EU that they funded COVAX, but now they are essentially discriminating against a vaccine that they actively funded and promoted,” Nsofor said. “This will just give room to all kinds of conspiracy theories that the vaccines we’re getting in Africa are not as good as the ones they have for themselves in the West.”Ivo Vlaev, a professor at Britain’s University of Warwick who advises the government on behavioral science during COVID-19, agreed that Western countries’ refusal to recognize vaccines used in poor countries could fuel mistrust.“People who were already suspicious of vaccines will become even more suspicious,” Vlaev said. “They could also lose trust in public health messages from governments and be less willing to comply with COVID rules.”Dr. Mesfin Teklu Tessema, director of health for the International Rescue Committee, said countries that have declined to recognize vaccines cleared by WHO are acting against the scientific evidence.“Vaccines that have met WHO’s threshold should be accepted. Otherwise it looks like there’s an element of racism here,” he said.WHO urged countries to recognize all of the vaccines it has authorized, including two Chinese-made ones. Countries that decline to do so are “undermining confidence in lifesaving vaccines that have already been shown to be safe and effective, affecting uptake of vaccines and potentially putting billions of people at risk,” the U.N. health agency said in a statement this month.In June, the Serum Institute of India’s CEO, Adar Poonawalla, tweeted that he was concerned about vaccinated Indians facing problems traveling to the EU and said he was raising the problem at the highest levels with regulators and countries.Stefan De Keersmaeker, a spokesman for the EU’s executive arm, said last week that regulators were obligated to check the production process at the Indian factory.”We are not trying to create any doubts about this vaccine,” he said.AstraZeneca said it only recently submitted the paperwork on the Indian factory to the EU drug regulatory agency. It didn’t say why it didn’t do so earlier, before the agency made its original decision in January.The failure of some national authorities to recognize vaccines made outside the EU — but whose European-made versions are authorized — is also frustrating some Europeans immunized elsewhere, including the U.S.Gerard Araud, a former French ambassador to the Israel, the U.S. and the U.N., tweeted this week that the country’s COVID-19 pass is a “disaster” for people vaccinated outside of France.Public health experts warned that countries that decline to recognize vaccines backed by WHO are complicating global efforts to safely restart travel.“You can’t just cut off countries from the rest of the world indefinitely,” said Dr. Raghib Ali of the University of Cambridge. “To exclude some people from certain countries because of the vaccine they’ve received is wholly inconsistent because we know that these approved vaccines are extremely protective.”Nsofor said he and his wife are still deciding where to take their summer vacation and are leaning toward Singapore or East Africa.“I didn’t realize there were so many layers to vaccine inequity,” he said.———Jamey Keaten in Geneva, Angela Charlton and Lori Hinnant in Paris, and Lorne Cook in Brussels, contributed to this report.———Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at:https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemichttps://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccinehttps://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Immunized but banned: EU says not all COVID vaccines equal

Immunized but banned: EU says not all COVID vaccines equal

LONDON — After Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor and his wife received two doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in Nigeria, they assumed they would be free to travel this summer to a European destination of their choice. They were wrong.The couple — and millions of other people who have been vaccinated through a U.N.-backed effort — could find themselves barred from entering many European and other countries because those nations don’t recognize the Indian-made version of the vaccine for travel.Although AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Europe has been authorized by the continent’s drug regulatory agency, the same shot manufactured in India hasn’t been given the green light.EU regulators said AstraZeneca hasn’t completed the necessary paperwork on the Indian factory, including details on its production practices and quality control standards.But some experts describe the EU move as discriminatory and unscientific, pointing out that the World Health Organization has inspected and approved the factory. Health officials say the situation won’t only complicate travel and frustrate fragile economies but also undermine vaccine confidence by appearing to label some shots substandard.As vaccination coverage rises across Europe and other rich countries, authorities anxious to salvage the summer tourism season are increasingly relaxing coronavirus border restrictions.Earlier this month, the European Union introduced its digital COVID-19 certificate, which allows EU residents to move freely in the 27-nation bloc as long as they have been vaccinated with one of the four shots authorized by the European Medicines Agency, have a fresh negative test, or have proof they recently recovered from the virus.While the U.S. and Britain remain largely closed to outside visitors, the EU certificate is seen as a potential model for travel in the COVID-19 era and a way to boost economies.The officially EU-endorsed vaccines also include those made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. They don’t include the AstraZeneca shot made in India or many other vaccines used in developing countries, including those manufactured in China and Russia.Individual EU countries are free to apply their own rules for travelers from inside and outside the bloc, and their rules vary widely, creating further confusion for tourists. Several EU countries, including Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, allow people to enter if they have had non-EU-endorsed vaccines; several others, including France and Italy, don’t.For Nsofor, the realization he could be barred was “a rude awakening.” After a tough year of working during the pandemic in Abuja, Nsofor and his wife were looking forward to a European vacation with their two young daughters, perhaps admiring the Eiffel Tower in Paris or touring Salzburg in Austria.Nsofor noted that the Indian-made vaccine he received had been authorized by WHO for emergency use and had been supplied through COVAX, the U.N.-backed program to provide shots to poor corners of the world. WHO’s approval included a visit to the Serum Institute of India factory to ensure that it had good manufacturing practices and that quality control standards were met.“We’re grateful to the EU that they funded COVAX, but now they are essentially discriminating against a vaccine that they actively funded and promoted,” Nsofor said. “This will just give room to all kinds of conspiracy theories that the vaccines we’re getting in Africa are not as good as the ones they have for themselves in the West.”Ivo Vlaev, a professor at Britain’s University of Warwick who advises the government on behavioral science during COVID-19, agreed that Western countries’ refusal to recognize vaccines used in poor countries could fuel mistrust.“People who were already suspicious of vaccines will become even more suspicious,” Vlaev said. “They could also lose trust in public health messages from governments and be less willing to comply with COVID rules.”Dr. Mesfin Teklu Tessema, director of health for the International Rescue Committee, said countries that have declined to recognize vaccines cleared by WHO are acting against the scientific evidence.“Vaccines that have met WHO’s threshold should be accepted. Otherwise it looks like there’s an element of racism here,” he said.WHO urged countries to recognize all of the vaccines it has authorized, including two Chinese-made ones. Countries that decline to do so are “undermining confidence in lifesaving vaccines that have already been shown to be safe and effective, affecting uptake of vaccines and potentially putting billions of people at risk,” the U.N. health agency said in a statement this month.In June, the Serum Institute of India’s CEO, Adar Poonawalla, tweeted that he was concerned about vaccinated Indians facing problems traveling to the EU and said he was raising the problem at the highest levels with regulators and countries.Stefan De Keersmaeker, a spokesman for the EU’s executive arm, said last week that regulators were obligated to check the production process at the Indian factory.”We are not trying to create any doubts about this vaccine,” he said.AstraZeneca said it only recently submitted the paperwork on the Indian factory to the EU drug regulatory agency. It didn’t say why it didn’t do so earlier, before the agency made its original decision in January.The failure of some national authorities to recognize vaccines made outside the EU — but whose European-made versions are authorized — is also frustrating some Europeans immunized elsewhere, including the U.S.Gerard Araud, a former French ambassador to the Israel, the U.S. and the U.N., tweeted this week that the country’s COVID-19 pass is a “disaster” for people vaccinated outside of France.Public health experts warned that countries that decline to recognize vaccines backed by WHO are complicating global efforts to safely restart travel.“You can’t just cut off countries from the rest of the world indefinitely,” said Dr. Raghib Ali of the University of Cambridge. “To exclude some people from certain countries because of the vaccine they’ve received is wholly inconsistent because we know that these approved vaccines are extremely protective.”Nsofor said he and his wife are still deciding where to take their summer vacation and are leaning toward Singapore or East Africa.“I didn’t realize there were so many layers to vaccine inequity,” he said.———Jamey Keaten in Geneva, Angela Charlton and Lori Hinnant in Paris, and Lorne Cook in Brussels, contributed to this report.———Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at:https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemichttps://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccinehttps://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Immunized but banned: EU says not all COVID vaccines equal

Immunized but banned: EU says not all COVID vaccines equal

LONDON — After Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor and his wife received two doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in Nigeria, they assumed they would be free to travel this summer to a European destination of their choice. They were wrong.The couple — and millions of other people who have been vaccinated through a U.N.-backed effort — could find themselves barred from entering many European and other countries because those nations don’t recognize the Indian-made version of the vaccine for travel.Although AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Europe has been authorized by the continent’s drug regulatory agency, the same shot manufactured in India hasn’t been given the green light.EU regulators said AstraZeneca hasn’t completed the necessary paperwork on the Indian factory, including details on its production practices and quality control standards.But some experts describe the EU move as discriminatory and unscientific, pointing out that the World Health Organization has inspected and approved the factory. Health officials say the situation won’t only complicate travel and frustrate fragile economies but also undermine vaccine confidence by appearing to label some shots substandard.As vaccination coverage rises across Europe and other rich countries, authorities anxious to salvage the summer tourism season are increasingly relaxing coronavirus border restrictions.Earlier this month, the European Union introduced its digital COVID-19 certificate, which allows EU residents to move freely in the 27-nation bloc as long as they have been vaccinated with one of the four shots authorized by the European Medicines Agency, have a fresh negative test, or have proof they recently recovered from the virus.While the U.S. and Britain remain largely closed to outside visitors, the EU certificate is seen as a potential model for travel in the COVID-19 era and a way to boost economies.The officially EU-endorsed vaccines also include those made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. They don’t include the AstraZeneca shot made in India or many other vaccines used in developing countries, including those manufactured in China and Russia.Individual EU countries are free to apply their own rules for travelers from inside and outside the bloc, and their rules vary widely, creating further confusion for tourists. Several EU countries, including Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, allow people to enter if they have had non-EU-endorsed vaccines; several others, including France and Italy, don’t.For Nsofor, the realization he could be barred was “a rude awakening.” After a tough year of working during the pandemic in Abuja, Nsofor and his wife were looking forward to a European vacation with their two young daughters, perhaps admiring the Eiffel Tower in Paris or touring Salzburg in Austria.Nsofor noted that the Indian-made vaccine he received had been authorized by WHO for emergency use and had been supplied through COVAX, the U.N.-backed program to provide shots to poor corners of the world. WHO’s approval included a visit to the Serum Institute of India factory to ensure that it had good manufacturing practices and that quality control standards were met.“We’re grateful to the EU that they funded COVAX, but now they are essentially discriminating against a vaccine that they actively funded and promoted,” Nsofor said. “This will just give room to all kinds of conspiracy theories that the vaccines we’re getting in Africa are not as good as the ones they have for themselves in the West.”Ivo Vlaev, a professor at Britain’s University of Warwick who advises the government on behavioral science during COVID-19, agreed that Western countries’ refusal to recognize vaccines used in poor countries could fuel mistrust.“People who were already suspicious of vaccines will become even more suspicious,” Vlaev said. “They could also lose trust in public health messages from governments and be less willing to comply with COVID rules.”Dr. Mesfin Teklu Tessema, director of health for the International Rescue Committee, said countries that have declined to recognize vaccines cleared by WHO are acting against the scientific evidence.“Vaccines that have met WHO’s threshold should be accepted. Otherwise it looks like there’s an element of racism here,” he said.WHO urged countries to recognize all of the vaccines it has authorized, including two Chinese-made ones. Countries that decline to do so are “undermining confidence in lifesaving vaccines that have already been shown to be safe and effective, affecting uptake of vaccines and potentially putting billions of people at risk,” the U.N. health agency said in a statement this month.In June, the Serum Institute of India’s CEO, Adar Poonawalla, tweeted that he was concerned about vaccinated Indians facing problems traveling to the EU and said he was raising the problem at the highest levels with regulators and countries.Stefan De Keersmaeker, a spokesman for the EU’s executive arm, said last week that regulators were obligated to check the production process at the Indian factory.”We are not trying to create any doubts about this vaccine,” he said.AstraZeneca said it only recently submitted the paperwork on the Indian factory to the EU drug regulatory agency. It didn’t say why it didn’t do so earlier, before the agency made its original decision in January.Public health experts warned that countries that decline to recognize vaccines backed by WHO are complicating global efforts to safely restart travel.“You can’t just cut off countries from the rest of the world indefinitely,” said Dr. Raghib Ali of the University of Cambridge. “To exclude some people from certain countries because of the vaccine they’ve received is wholly inconsistent because we know that these approved vaccines are extremely protective.”Nsofor said he and his wife are still deciding where to take their summer vacation and are leaning toward Singapore or East Africa.“I didn’t realize there were so many layers to vaccine inequity,” he said.———Jamey Keaten in Geneva, Angela Charlton in Paris, and Lorne Cook in Brussels, contributed to this report.———Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at:https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemichttps://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccinehttps://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

WHO: Rich countries should donate vaccines, not use boosters

WHO: Rich countries should donate vaccines, not use boosters

Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are neededBy MARIA CHENG AP Medical WriterJuly 12, 2021, 5:30 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are needed and appealed Monday for the scarce shots to be shared with poor countries who have yet to immunize their people instead of being used by rich countries as boosters.At a press briefing, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world’s grotesque vaccine disparity was driven by “greed,” as he called on drugmakers to prioritize supplying their COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries instead of lobbying rich countries to use even more doses. His plea comes just as pharmaceutical companies are seeking authorization for third doses to be used as boosters in some Western countries, including the U.S.“We are making conscious choices right now not to protect those in need,” Tedros said, adding the immediate priority must be to vaccinate people who have yet to receive a single dose.He called on Pfizer and Moderna to “go all out to supply COVAX, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and low and middle-income countries with very little coverage,” referring to the U.N.-backed initiative to distribute vaccines globally.After a 10-week drop in global coronavirus deaths, Tedros said the number of COVID-19 patients dying daily is again beginning to climb and that the extremely infectious delta variant is “driving catastrophic waves of cases.”Both Pfizer and Moderna have agreed to supply small amounts of their vaccines to COVAX, but the vast majority of their doses have been reserved by rich countries. The U.N.-backed effort has faltered badly in recent months, with nearly 60 poor countries stalled in their vaccination efforts and their biggest vaccine supplier unable to share any doses until the end of the year.Pfizer is meeting with top U.S. officials on Monday to discuss its request for federal authorization for a third booster dose. Last week, the company said a third dose could dramatically boost immunity and perhaps help ward off worrisome variants.Britain is also considering a possible booster vaccination plan in the fall, which would likely target those over 50 and the most vulnerable.But WHO’s top experts disputed the need for a booster in fully immunized people.“At this point…there is no scientific evidence to suggest that boosters are definitely needed,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist. Swaminathan said WHO would make recommendations on booster doses if they were needed, but that any such advice “has to be based on the science and data, not on individual companies declaring that the vaccines should now be administered as a booster dose.”Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief, suggested that if rich countries decide to administer booster shots rather than donating them to the developing world, “we will look back in anger and I think we will look back in shame.”He said the failure to increase vaccine manufacturing capacity, coupled with rich countries’ refusal to share shots with poor countries, was extremely disappointing.“This is people who want to have their cake and eat it,” he said. “Then they make some more cake and they want to eat that as well.”Some experts called the idea of booster shots “morally repugnant,” given the explosive spread of COVID-19 now being seen in some African countries.Tom Hart, acting CEO of the ONE campaign, an advocacy group, noted that just 1% of people in poor countries have received even one COVID-19 vaccine dose.”The idea that a healthy, vaccinated person can get a booster shot before a nurse or grandmother in South Africa can get a single jab is outrageous,” he said.———Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

WHO: Rich countries should donate vaccines, not use boosters

WHO: Rich countries should donate vaccines, not use boosters

Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are neededBy MARIA CHENG AP Medical WriterJuly 12, 2021, 5:29 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are needed and appealed Monday for the scarce shots to be shared with poor countries who have yet to immunize their people instead of being used by rich countries as boosters.At a press briefing, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world’s grotesque vaccine disparity was driven by “greed,” as he called on drugmakers to prioritize supplying their COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries instead of lobbying rich countries to use even more doses. His plea comes just as pharmaceutical companies are seeking authorization for third doses to be used as boosters in some Western countries, including the U.S.“We are making conscious choices right now not to protect those in need,” Tedros said, adding the immediate priority must be to vaccinate people who have yet to receive a single dose.He called on Pfizer and Moderna to “go all out to supply COVAX, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and low and middle-income countries with very little coverage,” referring to the U.N.-backed initiative to distribute vaccines globally.After a 10-week drop in global coronavirus deaths, Tedros said the number of COVID-19 patients dying daily is again beginning to climb and that the extremely infectious delta variant is “driving catastrophic waves of cases.”Both Pfizer and Moderna have agreed to supply small amounts of their vaccines to COVAX, but the vast majority of their doses have been reserved by rich countries. The U.N.-backed effort has faltered badly in recent months, with nearly 60 poor countries stalled in their vaccination efforts and their biggest vaccine supplier unable to share any doses until the end of the year.Pfizer is meeting with top U.S. officials on Monday to discuss its request for federal authorization for a third booster dose. Last week, the company said a third dose could dramatically boost immunity and perhaps help ward off worrisome variants.Britain is also considering a possible booster vaccination plan in the fall, which would likely target those over 50 and the most vulnerable.But WHO’s top experts disputed the need for a booster in fully immunized people.“At this point…there is no scientific evidence to suggest that boosters are definitely needed,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist. Swaminathan said WHO would make recommendations on booster doses if they were needed, but that any such advice “has to be based on the science and data, not on individual companies declaring that the vaccines should now be administered as a booster dose.”Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief, suggested that if rich countries decide to administer booster shots rather than donating them to the developing world, “we will look back in anger and I think we will look back in shame.”He said the failure to increase vaccine manufacturing capacity, coupled with rich countries’ refusal to share shots with poor countries, was extremely disappointing.“This is people who want to have their cake and eat it,” he said. “Then they make some more cake and they want to eat that as well.”Some experts called the idea of booster shots “morally repugnant,” given the explosive spread of COVID-19 now being seen in some African countries.Tom Hart, acting CEO of the ONE campaign, an advocacy group, noted that just 1% of people in poor countries have received even one COVID-19 vaccine dose.”The idea that a healthy, vaccinated person can get a booster shot before a nurse or grandmother in South Africa can get a single jab is outrageous,” he said.———Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

WHO: Delta variant is 'most transmissible' identified so far

WHO: Delta variant is 'most transmissible' identified so far

The head of the World Health Organization says the COVID-19 delta variant first seen in India is “the most transmissible of the variants identified so far” and warned it is now spreading in at least 85 countriesBy MARIA CHENG AP Medical WriterJune 25, 2021, 6:17 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLONDON — The head of the World Health Organization said the COVID-19 delta variant, first seen in India, is “the most transmissible of the variants identified so far,” and warned it is now spreading in at least 85 countries.At a press briefing on Friday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the lack of vaccines in poor countries was exacerbating the delta variant’s transmission. He described a recent meeting he attended of an advisory group established to allocate vaccines.“They were disappointed because there is no vaccine to allocate,” he said, criticizing rich countries for declining to immediately share shots with the developing world. “If there is no vaccine, what do you share?”Tedros said the global community was failing and risked repeating the mistakes made during the AIDS crisis decades ago and during the 2009 swine flu pandemic — when vaccines only arrived in poor countries after the outbreak ended.“It took 10 years (for antiretrovirals) to reach the low income countries after (HIV) was already rampant in high income countries,” he said. “Do we want to repeat the same thing?”COVAX, the U.N.-backed effort aiming to distribute vaccines to poor countries, has missed several targets to share COVID-19 shots, and its biggest supplier is not expected to export any vaccines until the end of the year. The hundreds of millions of doses promised by countries including Britain, the U.S. and others are not likely to arrive anytime soon.“We have through COVAX this month zero doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, zero doses of Pfizer vaccine, zero doses of (Johnson and Johnson) vaccine,” acknowledged Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to the WHO chief. “Every single one of our suppliers is unable to supply during this period because others are making demands on those products, others who are vaccinating very young populations that are not at risk.”As border restrictions and other public health measures are loosened across Europe, the U.S. and in other countries with high vaccination rates, WHO officials warned that this could lead to a resurgence of disease.“The global situation is incredibly fragile,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19. Van Kerkhove said that while transmission is dropping in Europe, there are numerous events — from large sporting events to backyard barbeques — that all have consequences for disease spread.“The delta variant, the virus, will continue to evolve,” Van Kerkhove said. “Right now our public health and social measures work, our vaccines work, our diagnostics work, our therapeutics work. But there may be a time where this virus evolves and these countermeasures don’t.”Earlier this month, British officials announced that they would allow 60,000 fans to attend the semi-finals and finals of the European football championships at London’s Wembley stadium — to the dismay of some public health experts.Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, called it “worrying and confusing,” saying there was limited data to prove its safety, especially given the prevalence of the more infectious delta variant. ”(The) inevitable opportunities for the virus to spread in enclosed spaces like lavatories is a recipe for disaster.”——Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine