The World Health Organization(WHO) has urged caution over removing mask mandates for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, while calling for wealthier nations to consider donating vaccines to COVAX.
In a virtual briefing, the WHO's top emergency expert Mike Ryan said that local conditions need to be taken into account if a country is planning to allow vaccinated people not to wear masks in public.
He said lifting a mask mandate should only be done after considering both the intensity of transmission in the area and the level of vaccine coverage.
This comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday said that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors in most circumstances.
The WHO has also urged rich countries to consider donating vaccine shots to the COVAX distribution scheme before vaccinating children.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that in low and lower-middle income countries, supply has been so low that even healthcare workers are yet to be vaccinated and hospitals are inundated with people that need urgent lifesaving care.
He pointed out that just zero-point-three percent of the world's vaccine supply is going to low-income countries.
The WHO chief said that a combination of public health measures and vaccination — not one or the other — is the only way to save lives and livelihoods.