Young people letting down their guard to enjoy the summer holidays are partly driving a spike in new COVID-19 cases in some countries, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.
A fresh jump in cases in parts of Europe, the United States and Asia has fuelled fears of a second wave of new coronavirus infections, and prompted some countries to impose new restrictions on travel.
"We've said this before and we'll say it again: young people are not invincible," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing in Geneva.
Evidence suggests that recent spikes of cases in some countries are being "driven in part by younger people letting down their guard during the northern hemisphere summer", he said.
The leader of the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia on Monday warned young people to stop partying to help halt a surge in new cases or local authorities may have to reimpose harsh restrictions.
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.
Britain and several other European countries have placed restrictions on travel to Spain.
Maria Van Kerkhove, a top WHO epidemiologist, told the same briefing that nightclubs were "amplifiers of transmission" of the disease.
"The majority of young people infected tend to have more mild disease. But that's not always consistent," she said.
The WHO this month urged travellers to wear masks on planes and keep themselves informed as COVID-19 cases surge again in some countries.
The WHO had said in June that it would update its travel guidelines ahead of the northern hemisphere summer holidays, but has not yet done so.
Its previous guidance for travellers has included common-sense advice applicable to other settings such as social distancing, washing your hands and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth.