The United Nations health agency said there were 4.5 million new COVID-19 cases reported last week, a 16 percent drop from the previous week. Deaths were also down by 13 percent, with about 13,500 fatalities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said COVID-19 infections dropped everywhere in the world while deaths decreased everywhere except for Southeast Asia, where they climbed by 15 percent, and in the Western Pacific, where they rose by 3 percent.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that with the coming onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the possible emergence of a more dangerous new COVID-19 variant, experts expect to see a spike in hospitalizations and deaths. Tedros said vaccination rates, even in rich countries, were still too low, noting that 30 percent of health workers and 20 percent of older people remain unimmunized.
"These vaccination gaps pose a risk to all of us," he said. "Please get vaccinated if you are not and a booster if it's recommended that you have one."
Until now, COVID-19 vaccines have targeted the original coronavirus strain, even as wildly different mutants emerged.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.