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By Kadeem Joseph

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As country’s like Antigua and Barbuda work toward the distribution of thousands of vaccines to aid in the fight against the impact of the novel coronavirus, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is warning that these shots should not be considered a “silver bullet.”

Observer media had asked the body what posture should countries like Antigua and Barbuda take amid a worrying spike in cases of the virus for the year thus far.

In responding, PAHO Assistant Director, Dr Jarbas Barbosa said the vaccine “will not stop transmission next week,” instead, the nation and other countries experiencing rapid increases in virus cases would have to rely on protocols already proven to work as vaccinations continue in the coming months.

“We need to keep the measures that we know. We now have tons of evidence showing that wearing masks, keeping physical distance, avoiding closed and crowded spaces are a very efficient way to prevent transmission,” he said.

Dr Barbosa added that is such cases where there are upticks in cases of Covid-19, countries also need to ramp up monitoring to ensure areas where a concentration of cases are identified.

He reemphasised that at least 70 percent of the population must be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity in order to control the transmission of the virus.

“So, we are not talking about days or weeks, we are talking about months… so, let’s keep all the measures that we know that can prevent [the virus and] these measures working together with the vaccine will achieve reduction in transmission in the near future,” he said. The recorded cases of the Covid-19 virus so far for 2021 have surpassed the total recorded cases of 2020, with 268 cases recorded already, 2021 dwarfs 2020 which saw only 159 laboratory confirmed cases of the virus.