Vaccines against COVID-19 are a great tool to fight the pandemic, but their ability to provide an immune barrier is still far off, and other measures are needed to prevent a virus surge, a World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Margaret Harris spoke at a briefing for journalists at the UN in Geneva, noting that she did not refer to waves for the transformation of the novel coronavirus.

“We are in a constant situation where we have widespread transmission.

“Vaccines are a great tool, they will be very helpful. But the effect of the vaccine in increased risk, providing some kind of immune barrier, is still far off.”

She said that to prevent a surge, what is needed is the distancing, handwashing, identifying every case and every contact backward.

“Those things must be done with great, ever-greater rigor, to stop this intense transmission,” she said.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus had offered similar advice at a webinar on Monday when he spoke about the significance of testing, which is vital to detect the virus.

“But it’s also important to know where the virus has been, and how many people might have been infected without showing symptoms or being diagnosed by testing,” said Tedros.

To do that, seroprevalence studies are important, he added.

These look for antibodies in the blood of individuals to evaluate the extent of infection in different populations.

“Hundreds of seroprevalence studies have been done around the world, which vary in quality, methods, and the type of tests used,” noted Tedros.

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