More than six months into the coronavirus pandemic, many countries are beginning to open their economies after months of lockdowns, curfews and social distancing protocols.
However, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is calling on governments and citizens worldwide to be patient and not to break protocols hastily, as the virus is still spreading quickly.
“Many people are understandably fed-up with being at home. Countries are understandably eager to open up their societies and economies, but the virus is still spreading fast, it’s still deadly, and most people are still susceptible,” Dr. Tedros said.
The WHO has recorded 150,000 positive cases in the past twenty-four hours, which is by far the most in a single day, coming from the Americas, South Asia and the Middle East.
Dr. Tedros urged persons to continue adhering to social distancing orders and follow protocols and guidelines set out by the WHO.
“We continue to call on all countries to focus on the basics: find, isolate, test and care for every case. Trace and quarantine every contact,” the Director-General emphasised.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, Dr. Michael Ryan noted that immunization has proven to be the single most life-saving intervention over the past 70 years and as such WHO is working to create a vaccine as soon as possible.
Dr Ryan also maintained that although vaccine development is being done at such an accelerated pace, all the necessary steps will be followed.
“No issues can be shortcut in this, but there are things that have been done to speed up the process of that development. The trials that are underway now are safety trials and efficacy trials will begin,” Dr. Ryan explained.
The first efficacy trials will be done on a large basis to get an “early signal of clinical efficacy” he clarified. Trials in large numbers are necessary to detect rare side effects that can only be detected when large numbers of people are tested.
Dr. Ryan said the WHO has been working with partners all around the world to ensure the clinical trials are conducted on as large a scale as possible. Also, post-marketing surveillance will be done to detect any issues even after the vaccine has been approved.
There is still no projected time as to when a vaccine will be available for coronavirus. However, on Tuesday, WHO saw positive signs in developing a treatment for the virus, when preliminary results from scientists in the United Kingdom revealed the first-ever treatment that was able to reduce death rates in critically ill patients using the drug dexamethasone.