The World Health Organization says even those who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus should still wear masks in public and practice social distancing, warning that the vaccines have created a “false sense of security” about the ongoing pandemic.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking from Geneva to reporters Wednesday about soaring coronavirus case rates in Europe, stressed that while the vaccines are indeed life-saving and prevent severe illness, the pandemic is far from over and those who’ve gotten the shot can still spread the virus.
“Even if you’re vaccinated, continue to take precautions to prevent becoming infected yourself, and to infecting someone else who could die,” Tedros said, CNBC reported. “That means wearing a mask, maintaining distance, avoiding crowds and meeting others outside if you can, or in a well-ventilated space inside.”
Europe, which Tedros said is now the “epicenter” of the pandemic, had 67% of the world’s total new coronavirus cases during the week ending Nov. 21 with more than 2.4 million infections, CNBC reported, citing WHO data.
However, the United States still far outpaces the rest of the world in both total cases and related deaths since the outset of the pandemic early last year, with roughly 48 million cases and 775,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Yet only about 59% of the U.S. population — or about 196 million residents — have been fully vaccinated as of Thursday despite the widespread availability of vaccines in the country, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.