The end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic is now near and the world will exit it through cooperation and the ongoing vaccination programs, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said during a visit to Athens.
"This is the only way out of the pandemic. We have to scale up indeed the vaccinations and give faith in the vaccinations," he said in a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, according to Greek national broadcaster ERT.
"It is important that we repeat this, that the vaccines are safe and effective. And the benefits far outweigh the possible risks," the Greek PM added.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in an increasing number of countries with the already-authorized COVID-19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, 272 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide 88 of them in clinical trials in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to the latest information released by the WHO.
To date, more than 2.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in Greece, with over 765,000 people have received both doses, according to the official figures.
On Thursday, Kluge and Greek officials also attended the opening ceremony of the new WHO Athens Sub-Office on Quality of Care and Patient Safety.
The new sub-office will work towards achieving the highest level of well-being, health and health protection in the WHO European Region, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It will bring WHO closer to the citizens of the south-eastern and Mediterranean countries of the region, according to a WHO press release.
Given that the pandemic has highlighted inequities in access to quality healthcare between countries, but also inside countries, the new office aims to help close gaps to improve health care for all.
Greece was chosen to host the new office because it in recent years has made significant steps in reforming its healthcare system and has shown resilience during the pandemic, Kluge explained.