LIVE: WHO briefing on COVID-19 in the Western Pacific

LIVE: WHO briefing on COVID-19 in the Western Pacific

surges in part driven by the delta variants and our share of global cases and death is rising sharply in the first three weeks of august our regents reported over ten percent of new global cases and more than eight percent of new global deaths and in some places surges are pushing health system dangerously close to what we call the red line where the number of critical cases exceeds icu capacity and the hospitals can no longer provide the care that people need this is a serious problem for all of us but it weighs especially heavily on doctors nurses and other healthcare workers they have worked day and night for a year and a half and some have not been home to see their families for months several factors are contributing to surges to explain this further and provide an update on the outbreak in the region i’d like to hand over to dr matsui a distinguished member of the media good morning i will share with you the kobe 19 station in the whole western pacific region next slide please here is an overview of the station of cobit 19 globally and in the western pacific region the left side of this screen shows the global station including a graph with a trend in the six double joules some region has had a plateau or declining trend in the past two weeks the right size shows the station in the western pacific as an illustration of the recent situation in august 10 of new global cases and eight percent of new deaths were in the region if we look at the trend here we see a sharp increase in both cases and death reported recently likely the slide shows the poor countries in the western pacific region with the highest number of the new cases in the previous 24 hour hours recently many countries in the region have reported an increasing trend in cases factors that have likely contributed to this increase include widely circulating violence especially data valiant insufficient and or no compliance with the public and social measures such as closure of cc settings mass scaling another important factor is a difficulty in detecting cases that are asymptomatic or mild these cases can maintain chains of transmission in the community next slide please why is increase in many countries and areas in the region some member states including china singapore and mongolia have suppressed transmission factors contributing to this ablation include early implementation of public health social medias after detection of community transmission and high works in uptick among the population the combination of early implementation of public health social medias in addition to vaccine uptake has been shown to be effective at reducing transmission this is also true for transmission of c delta variant next like this some countries and areas in the region have reported no new cases for seven or more days as shown in the table on the left and 10 pacific island countries have not reported any cases to date as shown in the table on the right next slide please the proportion of covet 19 cases which are caused by the delta valiant is increasing in several member states in the region this slide shows the key characteristics of c delta valiant in terms of how easily it splits delta has the highest highest transmissibility of all valence concerns studies suggested that daily delta is nearly twice as infectious as previous strains regarding digestive reality some data suggested that dereta may increase the risk of severe cases in unvaccinated persons who are infected however these findings have not been consistently observed globally regarding vaccine performance existing vaccines continue to be highly effective at the preventing severe diseases in fully vaccinated individual including those exposed to delta next slide please here you can see the progress with the kubernetes vaccine supply for eligible population in pacific island countries and areas we define the eligible population in these countries as 75 percent of the islands of all population because they have a bigger proportion of high-risk loop than other countries as we can see in the gloves all have secured vaccines so please here is the same information of vaccine supply in the other countries and areas of the region overall in the western pacific with combined efforts of government and partners we are making progress in securing vaccines especially for priority groups health care workers the elderly and people with comorbidities the region already has enough doses to protect all health care workers around 26 million people we are also closely monitoring progress with vaccine uptake in the region next slide please here is a take away message considering the higher transmissibility of the delta valiant added detection of community transmission and implementation of public health social medias are key to suppressing transmission and minimizing fact stronger and longer public health social medias may be needed to avoid big increases vaccination helps to prevent severe cases so vaccination of high-risk population groups is important lastly vaccination should be paired with appropriate public health social medias thank you for your attention back to the pakistan thank you very much tamano as you have just heard the delta variant is now a real threat which is testing a capacity of even the strongest public health system in our region delta’s higher transability means cluster of cases are quickly leading to bigger outbreaks especially in the high risk setting known as the 3cs closed space crowded places and close contact settings we are also seeing more clusters in the families once the virus enters the household more family members are quickly becoming infected and this is the reason why government in the regions are taking strong and early action through lockdowns and other measures to limit transmission and avoid putting more pressure on already stretched health services every country needs to continue doing all that it can to control the viruses carefully assessing and managing the risk in each context it is especially important for countries we still have a few or no cases to remain vigilant we have seen how quickly delta can spread once it gets in and how hard it is to stop however even with all our best efforts it now seems clear that globally the virus will not disappear at least not in the near future and while the virus is spreading anywhere every country remains at risk with this in mind we see a couple of plausible scenario for the future the first scenario is where our actions allow us to live with the virus we reduce the risk it poses by making the best use of vaccination and other prevention measures and respond to flare-ups where they occur with short targeted measures this does not mean giving up on controlling the virus but it’s more like how we manage seasonal cleanser and other vaccine-preventable diseases we focus on trying to limit spread protecting the most vulnerable and doing so reduce the health and broader social impact of outbreak the second scenario is where other more dangerous variants are able to evolve variants that spread even more easily cause more severe diseases or are resistant to existing vaccine i’m sure you agree that this scenario and all of the associated health social and economic cost is the one we don’t want it and we wanted to avoid if possible and the best way we can do this is by doing everything we can to limit the transmission now like other viruses the more people are infected the more the virus will cause kobe 19 can evolve which of these two scenarios becomes reality depends on which individual and collective actions we choose to take in the weeks and months ahead so it is in our power to shape the course that the pandemic takes next getting priority population especially health workers and older people and then whole communities vaccinated as quickly as possible is crucial but equally political is continuing with the personal protective behaviors and public health measures that reduce transmission using these tools in combination is the key to limiting spread and the virus ability to mutate into more dangerous variants i know that it’s hard to keep asking people to comply with the restrictions and to keep asking government to apply them when resources are stretched and people are tired i totally understand because i am also tired of all of these too i want to be able to travel again i want to see my elderly parents and for my daughters to see their friends but at this critical points in the pandemic it is up to all of us to stay the course and do all we can to avoid the second future scenario for individuals this means continuing to wear a mask and avoid closed spaces crowded places and close contact setting and of course getting vaccinated as soon as it becomes your turn for business and other employers it means carefully managing and mitigating a risk at the workplace and for health system it means staying ready for potential surges and maintaining essential services to save lives and for governments in addition to rolling out vaccines it means having the best information to support decision making and adapting measures based on the local context it also means taking the right approach to testing with genomic sequence to track the variance and contact tracing to find and stamp out clusters early and taking targeted actions to reach and protect vulnerable groups in high risk settings a lot remains uncertain but at this critical moment in the pandemic we must continue to make the best decision we can based on our experience shared learning and reliable data in order to create the future that we want it is within our power to reduce the threat of the virus but by making the most of every tool we have to fight it today doing this will help us get back to something closer to the life we all want just last friday i had a video call with a 108 year old woman in rural cambodia who had just been vaccinated and she told me that she took the vaccine for herself and to help protect others in her community day i’m inspired and motivated by the tremendous resilience and commitment of people like her from across our region we have come this far together so my message to all of you is this at this critical phase in the pandemic let’s stay the course working together we can take control to protect ourselves and each other for the sake of all our futures thank you very much back to leeds thank you so much dr kasai and dr matsu we’ve now come to the part of the press conference where we take questions from journalists we already have a very long list of questions as i said we’ll get to as many as we can today and follow up with us afterwards if we didn’t manage to get to your question and also those who still have a question that they haven’t yet submitted please feel free to do that using the q a function in zoom so let’s start with a question that we have from bin woo with china southern metropolis we have a question from bien wu about the delta variant we’ve lots of questions about the delta variant obviously a topic of great interest um but let’s start with this one in the western pacific region we’ve seen a big increase in new cases and new deaths in the past week what are the reasons for this does the high infectiousness of the delta strain as well as its high pathogenicity have anything to do with it i’ll turn to dr kasai for a response to that one thank you leave and thank you for that questions in our region the situation in every country’s areas is different and situation can change very quickly some countries have still a low case number and others are fighting major surges several factors are contributing behind the surges as my colleague tamanna explained and one is delta variant which is reported to have as a twice as transmissible compared to the original virus the other reason is after 19 months people become tired off and there’s a lack of compliance to the preventive measures and even there are some people who start to lax about the preventive measures and the third reason is that invisible trump is transmission from the people who don’t know they’re infected and obviously for those group it’s very difficult to detect early the case and i wanted to also add one more um challenges that our regions face exist in our region that is that we have the area where people becomes vulnerable there are peo area that the people living in the very clouded place and sometimes not hygienic people from the province or outer ireland come to the urban setting or main island to work for it that creates that kind of space and sometimes the dormitory of the factories are also making people in the bernabeu conditions know it works in combinations and stay on course thank you very much thank you so much dr kasai and thanks for that question uh next we’re going to take one from peter blaser with reuters um peter has a question about booster doses of vaccine we’ve got lots of questions about boosters um so let’s start with this one other vaccine manufacturers are proposing booster shots to improve immunity responses will who recommend these boosters in future and with the lack of supply how can developing countries afford booster shots i’m going to ask dr escalante to take this one thank you thank you so much indeed there have been a lot of discussions on whether or not booster doses will be provided to individuals who have already been vaccinated and there are initiatives or studies that are already being undertaken to determine the needs of bolster doses with several considerations and one of which is to really look at whether or not there is awaiting protection of the current vaccines against a severe disease and whether or not the effectiveness of the vaccines are reduced against the variance of concern however at this point in time we really do not have sufficient evidence to say that we need this booster doses now and especially within the context of the very constrained global supply our priority will be for countries to ensure that the vaccines that are available to them are used to cover the priority groups including the healthcare workers the elderly and the vulnerable but who will continue to work with scientists and experts around the world to continue with this studies but we are also um really urging that the introduction of booster doses should be firmly evidence driven and targeted to the population groups in a greatest need again for now the focus should be ensuring that countries use limited vaccine supplies to fully vaccinate people with first and second doses again especially the priority groups or the most at risk who are most at risk of infection and vulnerable disease thank you luke thank you so much dr escalante we’ve got a lot more questions on vaccines so let’s now go to this one from janus cave with philippine news agency um what is davieto doing to ensure that vaccines are distributed equitably across the world and we’ve got a similar one from the philippine star can you address that as well please talk sure thank you so much lee during the first months of the rollout of the vaccinations we have seen enormous inequity in the distribution of vaccines and still this is quite persisting however who and partners are focused on ensuring that the equitable distribution of vaccines will be addressed at the soonest possible time the kovacs facility which is an initiative of who gavi seti and other partners continues to work with suppliers and manufacturers around the world to ensure that the doses they produce are shared with kovacs also recently we have seen more and more countries particularly those with extra doses already donating to covax and sharing their doses to countries with less access to vaccines we are also very happy to see that many countries in our region the developed countries are contributing enormously to products whether that will be financing or whether vaccines that are manufactured um in the countries and also the extra doses so many of the countries in the western pacific region including for the pacific island countries are benefiting uh from this uh shared doses through the povox facility on the other hand one of the issues that we are really facing is the capacity of manufacturers to scale up production particularly for the very new platform of vaccines so again wh working with partners has launched the initiative of technology transfer to enable manufacturers in low and middle income countries to adopt the technology for the production of vaccines and and to sustain the supplies in in the short and medium term and we are seeing that uh progress very very well including some of countries in our region participating in the technology transfer thank you thank you so much dr escalante we’ve got lots more questions coming in so now let’s go to one that we have from uh also another one that’ll ask you to respond to sock about vaccination of other groups including children this is one from the inquirer in the philippines what is which take on giving booster shots third doses i think you just responded to that part but what about vaccinating younger populations in the philippines on the vaccination of children who will only recommend vaccination by age group based on the evidence available over to you thank you again uh in general our children are less likely to suffer from the direct impact of corvid 19 morbidity and mortality compared with other age groups but there is still a small risk of developing severe illness and complications from kovid 19. so who is recommending to countries that where children have comorbidities and if these children are in places where there is ongoing community transmission as as well as the formation of clusters then children could be vaccinated but again we still need to put that in the context of prioritizing the elderly which are more vulnerable to severe disease thank you so much zak and in fact another question that was very similar just came in from greg gregorio with tv5 but i think you’ve responded to that adequately already about children um next we have a question about other variants of the virus so let’s start with this one from marie karacenko with the inquirer following the detection of the lambda variant in the philippines what does who recommend in terms of community quarantine or lockdowns and travel restrictions how do we foresee the covert 19 situation following the detection of lambda variant there’s a similar question from rappler but if you could respond to that about lambda and other variants um please tomano that would be excellent oh thank you lee who wireless evolution working group monitors the changes to south korea too to detect the potential valiance of concern and valiance of interest that pose an increased risk to global public health a variety of concern is a strength we see calactalistic including increased transmissibility change to a clinical dispresentation or decrease in effectiveness against vaccines in recent months lambda has become the dominant valiant in several south american countries who has designated lambda as a variance of interest this is different uh to being a valiance of concern who has been monitoring this valiant for sometimes and the there is the evidence that this variant is overtaking other violence variants in some countries however to date there is no evidence to suggest it has a greater transmissibility or that current counter measures are not effective against it thank you thank you so much tomano we also have a question from red mendoza at the manila times about how governments are incentivizing vaccination there are proposals to allow only vaccinated people to roam around and enjoy things like dining and public transport what does wha think about these proposals would it help to convince people to get vaccinated or are there other ways to incentivize people to be vaccinated and push them to get the shot i’ll put that question to dr kasai thank you leave vaccination is a very important tool for controlling this virus and continue to communicate about the kobe 19 and its vaccine is a very important uh steps to make or help people inform decisions but in the same time it is uh important to consider what i encourage people to get vaccinated and it depends on the actually each country’s context but environment that makes people easy to get a vaccinations can promote vaccinations and in fact that they are several examples exist there are so many innovations coming out from the grounds such as providing the transportations for elderly or bringing those vaccination sites closer to where people live or closer to where they go it is always very important to consider how can we make a vaccine update uh speed up and easy for people to get vaccinations thank you so much dr kasai we have a question from emilia dunn with sbs australia about the pacific islands and how they’re coping with curve 19. how has delta changed the approach of the small island nations to containing covert are they receiving enough vaccines a lot of countries still have their borders closed do you think this is going to change any time soon and what are who’s major concerns when it comes to keeping pacific island countries safe and their health systems working that one for you as well please dr kasai thank you very much uh for this very important questions the pacific island countries is the priority area for us in responding to kovite and together with the partners we’re working closely with the countries the pacific island countries are vulnerable to kobe 19 with a their limited healthcare capacity but also they have a higher proportions of the people with the risk to covet 19 and also obviously they have a challenges of geography and many of them actually took a strong border measures and they keep a virus out from their countries but unfortunately several countries are now experiencing the search as other member states in our regions um maybe the delta variants and with the delta variants actually many of them enhance the border control including the trouble restrictions and the testing a strategy but keeping a border control for an extended period is costly and if you think about long term it is not possible to maintain those very strict measures and so vaccine and the risk-based approach is going to be the key fortunately as my colleagues reported with the strong partners exist in the pacific strong partners such as a australia china new zealand japan and united states so many other partners are already made a commitment to make sure that the sufficient vaccines to be a available for the pacific island countries but not only the partners there is also a solidarity and the are really taking their best efforts to deliver those vaccine once they get it as quick as possible even to the remote uh island and they’re showing a very impressive progress in that and with that several countries start discussing a risk-based approach to relax the border step by step but again important things is that the vaccine alone cannot make a virus under the control and it’s very important to continue to put the public health and the social measures and if you think about the risk-based approach the more we have the vaccine coverage and the more stronger capacity for the border control and response and health system the more we can open the border and therefore it is very important to continue to put the effort in strengthening all those capacity ideally if if it’s possible to continue to encourage people do basic preventive measure but if not it is also important to make people community ready to quickly switch on in case they found new viruses in their country so under this delta variance it is a very important phase for the pandemic and we encourage all the countries even the country where they don’t have the virus yet to ramp up their effort to strengthen all those capacity and stay on course thank you very much thanks dr kasai we have a couple more questions uh specifically on the pacific island countries that have come in these ones focusing in particular on vaccines i will put them both together now to dr escalante one from samantha magic with islands business and she asks i note while all required vaccines have been committed for png solomon islands and vanuatu vaccines actually received sit up below 20 and just eight percent for png what are these delays in deployment due to and what concerns does this raise for who and your partners the second question is from lucy kramer with stuff in new zealand what are the biggest challenges for getting populations in the pacific fully vaccinated and how is access to vaccines there compared to access in other regions what vaccines have been made available there and is there a preference for one type of vaccine over another i know that’s a lot i’m sorry for doing it all to you at once um dr escalante but perhaps you can get started on that and others if they want to compliment can do so uh thank you so much lee i will try to uh to answer all the questions uh as much as i can um when the western pacific region plan the roll out of vaccination there are three important key elements in that plan one is on access and availability and that is to ensure that the doses of vaccines that are already listed as safe a good quality and of known efficacy will be accessed by the region as soon as possible and on that aspect we are seeing much more a lot of progress in terms of access and availability the second would be deployment and deployment is very challenging in the context of the kovid 19 vaccinations because it is a very unique situation where it is the first time that we are going to deploy but since the very large number of populations of course with the priority and across all the corners of countries and in the region and third is to ensure that countries will be able and have the capacity to monitor the safety of the vaccines and when adverse events uh occur that they are able to respond and and to manage these adverse events in a timely manner so with this it’s a continuation of constellation of complexities and many challenges what we are seeing in the in in the pacific island countries is again the governments are very good on ensuring availability of the vaccines but because also of the geographical makeup of the pics the deployment has become a challenge the the deployment and implementation of the vaccines we are monitoring the weekly uptake of vaccinations in these countries and countries have been faithfully and committedly reporting to who there will be implications because we who and partners and countries donating do not want seems to be wasted um when they are received in the country so the word now that we are doing is to support countries and partners to pace and sequence the donations so that when the vaccines arrive in country the countries are really are ready to deploy so we are seeing for example um in solomon islands and vanuatu particularly in vanuatu a slower uptake for now but because they have also started their vaccination quite played png we are are seeing a lot of issues on vaccines hesitancy and who the country and partners have been extensively working to address this through appropriate and timely risk communication but also looking at the micro planning on how the vaccines are targeted to the populations undelivered as much as possible in a more rapid manner but again yes we are seeing all these challenges but we continue to work together with the countries to address these issues uh no i think you answer very well uh but only things i wanted to remind is uh i mentioned in the previous questions that they have been showing a very impressive progress the way i expressed was because of that all those challenges or the difficulties they have despite of that they’re really trying to dispute the vaccines they have been successfully you know pushing the virus out means the people living inside that countries have less access to the informations of kobe and have not really really ready or understand uh what this call with 19 means and then what is the effectiveness of the vaccines but still they really explaining and communicating well and then making a community to start take action themselves not just protecting yourself but the protecting the community and that’s the reason why in the previous questions i mentioned that we’re seeing a very impressive progress thank you thank you so much doctors escalante and kasai we have a number of questions on the current situations in the philippines specifically and one of them is this from allison jackson with afp but we have similar ones from dario agnote with xinhua agency and also from gma news and untv but let’s start with this one from afp what is your assessment of the current surge of coronavirus infections in the philippines and the preparedness of hospitals to deal with the sharp increase in cases do they have enough nurses to handle the patients and specifically what about hospitals outside metro manila what’s your assessment of their capacity to cope has enough been done since the last surge to boost their capacity over to you dr kasai for this one or okay let me answer in a much more generic way and then if it’s not enough i can handle to pass it to my colleagues so the philippine is one of the countries in the regions facing this surge now reported more than 1.7 million cases and suddenly more than [Music] 30 000 deaths and it is not only in the capital but multiple provinces experiencing surge we call it the pause and in some places they are experiencing the hospitals are overwhelmed and then what i also wanted to share is that we heard that the healthcare workers are all really exhausted the philippines is actually was one of the earliest countries to introduce public health and social measures in pandemic response and they were able to reduce the number of cases but also experience a negative impact on people’s lives there are people who needs to go for work and it has been posing a very challenging situations and the leaders have been making a very difficult decisions they have been adapting and then adjusting and now put several strong measures in several places to control and reduce the transmissions again we know lockdown alone cannot really really reduce the transmission down and so it is very important to identify and know where the infections occurring and suppress that and also using that information for risk-based measures so that you can effectively suppress the transmissions and government has putting a significant effort in vaccinations and i was very happy to hear yesterday that the vaccination coverage for the health care workers uh already reached above 95 percent and for elderly there also the pace is really really going up and reach more than 46 percent and i wanted to really encourage people to continue to get a vaccine when a turn comes to your turn they also continue to put effort to you know increase their healthcare capacity to response to their surge and their previous uh we have seen that they have done in a very successive way in increasing the ico capacity so that they can accommodate all those critical cases into icu but that what is important uh is actually not just bits but to make sure there is a doctor and nurses and also their sufficient equipment and also the support to those working very hard and together with the partners actually david joe’s uh working very close with the government to support all these uh efforts and delta variant is here in the philippines and like other countries in the region it is a very important moment for the philippines and i really wanted to encourage everybody to take their role in protecting their loved ones and also the greater community so that we can stay on course thank you thank you so much dr kasai we have more questions on the situation in the philippines including this one from lee alves from gma news um what is wr’s assessment of the pace and coverage of vaccination in the philippines and what are the areas that need improvement dr escalante can you take that one thank you so much leo um the vaccination roll out in the philippines is uh going quite well and as our regional director has already mentioned it’s very good to note that 95 of their healthcare workers or more than 95 percent have already received a full dose of vaccination and about 46 percent of the elderly have already received a full doses of vaccinations so the philippines has also demonstrated quite good capacity to rapidly roll out the vaccines across the country we have seen that they have a very um good plan of ensuring that when the vaccines are made available to the country that they are distributed to the local government units as soon as possible while some local government units have been better at planning and rolling out vaccines for priority groups we also see that there is still some local government units that would need to improve the the rollout of the vaccines and to target the the priority populations again especially the health care workers the elderly and individuals with comorbidities so who particularly our country office continues to work with the department of health and other partners in the governments as well as with the local government units to continue to accelerate the vaccinations especially for the priority groups as we have already mentioned thanks so much dr escalante we also have some questions about borders um here’s one from ria circo with eac news cambodia when can you envisage a full reopening of the borders in the western pacific region uh do you want to start with that one dr kasai um thank you very much leave actually i think when cambodia referred to the border they have a air border they have a sea border and they have a land border and this land border is actually one of the area a very challenge to manage but they allows cambodia vietnam and china they’re really trying their best to manage this border back to your question we don’t know actually exactly when the border can uh be fully open but what we know is that depends actually uh on the what action we take and so the best way to get there is to stay the course and use the knowledge we have from uh experience shared from our other countries and use all measures we know is effective vaccine public health and social measures and also a border control continue to learn and improve and also strengthen the health capacity that as a combination thank you thanks so much there’s another question from riya soco in cambodia about mixing different vaccines cambodia has been providing astrazeneca booster shots or third doses to frontline workers who are fully vaccinated with synovac and cyanopharm what are the possible effects of mixing vaccines and do you recommend this for you dr escalante thank you um so the current vaccines that have been assessed uh under the emergency use a listing of who have been tested in terms of their safety efficacy and we’re using the same vaccines there were no clinical trials that were undertaken for the mixed and matched vaccines while we were rolling out the vaccination and in the context of the constraints of supplies other countries have considered mixing and matching vaccines and we know that some countries including the uk have used astrazeneca as the first dose and pfizer as the second dose and with the very limited data that is available it seems that this combination is effective and also safe however aside from that we do not have studies to to show that other vaccines can also be mixed and much so um from the perspective of the data that that we know the mix and match of vaccines such as astrotherica and pfizer will only be recommended when the second dose for astrazeneca is not available but while does well we have vaccines that will be available for the second dose we continue to advise countries to use the same vaccine to complete the doses of individuals because those are the two doses from the same vaccine are already proven to be effective and safe particularly in preventing severe disease thank you sock we have a question on the situation in malaysia from kanmani batu malai with code blue malaysia’s decided to relax some restrictions based on vaccine coverage and the rate of new hospital emissions admissions these relaxations are now applicable to states with an increasing hospital and icu admission rate for covered 19. is it a premature decision to relax the restrictions solely based on these indicators without considering the highly transmissible variance and vaccine efficacy against delta which seems to wane over time could you start with a response to this one dr kasai yes as i mentioned in my remarks uh it’s actually up to the countries to carefully assess and wane the risk and then the effectiveness of the intervention and its social acceptance and its negative impact the very important point for the kobe 19 response is not to rely on just one measure but to make as a combination a vaccine is a good example vaccine alone cannot put this kobe 19 under the control but together with the public health and social measure we can suppress those uh kobe 19. and it is also very important to make sure that all stakeholders to be engaged not just in the government but also the business sectors or the communities or the ngos and the civil societies to take the role and then the options to reduce the transmissions and when the number of the political cases exceed the ico capacity or expect it to exceed the ico capacity that’s the time we really have to take a strong measures so that we can protect the health care worker and then health services and with the delta variants reported as much more might have higher transmissibility it may take much longer time to see the effect of those interventions and it is very important to carefully lift those interventions that they put in place thank you thanks dr kasai we have some questions now um on the philippines and challenges with vaccination here and how delta’s affecting that um here’s one from carolyn bonquin with cnn philippines what are the biggest challenges in vaccinating a big portion of the population in the region and is the delta variant affecting the vaccination strategy and targets if so in what way to you dr escalante uh thank you so much lee um [Music] as i mentioned in my response uh on the questions on deployment in the pacific uh the really biggest challenge of deploying of vaccinating large proportion of populations would be one is the availability of vaccines to cover this large portion of the population and two is the deployment meaning how fast we could cover uh this uh like for example adults as soon as possible but again in the context of that i think that the steps for the countries are really very clear to prioritize those populations who are have the higher highest risk in order for us to effectively use the available vaccines and in order for us to systematically deploy the vaccines based on this prioritization now in terms of the delta variant um i i would not say that the course of the of the plan or strategy for vaccination has changed we would still need to ensure that the priority groups are going to be vaccinated first but what countries would need to do is to speed up and scale up the the vaccination so that we could cover the priority population as soon as possible and to as much as possible be ahead uh before the delta variant is going to spread so again in the context of this we are urging countries to go to the last mile of vaccinating your health care workers and your elderly for example in the philippines if you are saying that 95 of the healthcare workers are already vaccinated when delta variant is spreading let’s find out who are those five percent that are remaining and let us get for us and others but let’s start with the reuters question vietnam has by far the lowest vaccination rate in the region and lockdowns may not be enough to keep it under control as we’re seeing in places like australia what do you think about vietnam’s current situation given the mortality rate is pretty high and daily cases keep hitting records and i also wanted to mention this one from me hung in from don viet online about the situation in ho chi minh city particularly where lots of 300 people are dying every day because of covert and they’re focusing on mass detection in hanoi and ho chi minh to strengthen lockdowns is it working and do we have any advice for vietnam on how to improve the cur the situation and speed up vaccinations again it’s a lot but i’ll handle that over to you dr kasai for a first response thank you for that questions and i understand that people are very interested in the vietnam situations actually vietnam has been demonstrating a very strong leadership and effective public health response including a contract racing and social measures and movement control and they had successfully a suppressing the transmission and as a result while they are keeping a a stringent border control they start to lift their restrictions gradually and then the delta variants came in now the over 323 000 cases in 75 000 deaths have been reported now it is mainly in the ho chi minh and they’re neighboring a southern province but they also have a case reported from many parts of the countries including a hanoi and many of them unclear about the epidemiological situations what we can see there is delta variant is a real threat but what we have observing is again with the strong leadership vietnam took a very stringent measure in a proactive manner here when i say proactive matter stringent actions one is that they continue to do the contact uh tracings and then they rapidly um you know increasing the availability of the vaccines and then the providing the care to the sick and of course exchanging public health measures regarding the vaccines the vaccine the vietnam is also one of the countries encounter the challenges that many countries around the world face that is the global shortage but again with the very strong leadership and the support from the partners they are rapidly increasing the availability of the vaccines and one thing i wanted to also note is that the vietnam is the country once vaccines run dead they really speedily deliver these vaccines to the people and i understand that they’re also moving the plan to have the vaccine production capacity within their countries i was told that there are so many healthcare workers doctors nurses are being mobilized from other province to help those province that they are really encountering these difficult challenges and i wanted to take this really opportunity to thank those a hard work and then which wanted to continue to commit to continue to work with the government to support their effort to make sure that they can stay on course thank you thanks so much dr kasai um i realize we are just over the hour but with everyone’s tolerance hope we can answer just a couple more questions before we finish we’ve got one here from ella marguer with national public radio about the origins of the virus that causes covert 19. is who still mulling the reinvestigation of the origins of the virus and what is its stake on finding out about the virus over to you dr kasai thank you to better understand how this pandemic began is very important for us to be better prepared for the next one and dominator has been working closely with the member states and scientific community on this issue and just recently an open call from expert of the new scientific advisory group for the origins of novel pathogens at the global level was announced this work is important but in the same time we really must continue to focus on measures we can do now and continue to respond covet 19 at the regional and then country office country level thank you thanks dr kasai um we have a question from jenny ravello at devex on how many health workers in the region have been vaccinated are you able to respond to that one dr ethelante thank you so much uh so jenny although data is not available from all countries and areas in the western pacific region we know that around 80 percent of healthcare workers are now fully vaccinated and this is more than 10.4 million of the healthcare workers we also know that all countries and areas across the region have now secured enough doses to cover all the healthcare workers which is 26 million people thanks so much dr escalante and also of course dr kasai dr matsuya thanks all the journalists who have been connected online today we had lots and lots and lots of great questions we got to as many of them as we could within the hour and a little bit beyond um if you have any other burning questions that we didn’t manage to get to please be in touch with us and we’ll try to get back to you as soon as we can until next time um stay safe and thank you very much you
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LIVE: WHO briefing on COVID-19 in the Western Pacific

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