From: Alice Taylor
Albania Reaches 56% Vaccination, Government Remains Cautious

Albanian Minister of Health Ogerta Manastirliu said it is too early to declare victory over the COVID-19 pandemic while noting that 56% of residents have been vaccinated fully.

During the presentation of the latest decisions of the Council of Ministers for Health, Manastirliu said the situation is being monitored.

“I would like to start by mentioning what the WHO Director-General stated yesterday. It is still too early to declare victory or to reduce measures. In Albania, the situation is being assessed, and this makes us careful. We have over 18 thousand active cases. Based on the assessment of the situation, decisions will be made,” she said.

Manastirliu said there was no data on how many boosters have been given and that this is to be evaluated. Additionally, the Committee of Expert would review the days of isolation required with the Omicron variant.

On Tuesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave some stark figures regarding the spread of the virus worldwide. More than 370 million cases have been reported, and 5.6 million people have died, figures he said are underestimated. Since Omicron was identified, he said some 90 million cases have been reported, more than in the whole of 2020.

“We’re concerned that a narrative has taken hold in some countries that because of vaccines, and because of Omicron’s high transmissibility and lower severity, preventing transmission is no longer possible and no longer necessary. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

He added that it is premature for any country to surrender or declare victory, noting that the virus will evolve in ways that cannot be predicted.

WHO’s COVID-19 Tehnica Lead Maria van Kerkhove also urged caution to countries that are dropping COVID-19 restrictions. Denmark became the latest to scale back all measures related to stemming the spread of the disease.

“We are urging caution because many countries have not gone through the peak of Omicron yet, many countries have low levels of vaccination coverage with very vulnerable individuals within their populations, and so now is not the time to lift everything all at once,” she said.