WHO warns that ‘no country can just pretend the pandemic is over’

The World Health Organization on Monday urged international locations to proceed implementing security measures to manage the unfold of the coronavirus, corresponding to limiting public gatherings and defending weak teams as they attempt to reopen companies and companies. 

“The more control countries have over the virus, the more they can open up. Opening up without having control is a recipe for disaster,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mentioned at a digital information briefing from the United Nations well being company’s Geneva headquarters. “No country can just pretend the pandemic is over.”

Tedros outlined “four essential things that all countries, communities and individuals must focus on to take control.” He mentioned international locations ought to “prevent amplifying events,” which he mentioned many international locations have linked to massive gatherings at stadiums, nightclubs and locations of worship. He added that international locations and folks can discover “creative ways” to be social. 

He added that international locations ought to forestall deaths by defending weak folks, together with older folks, folks with underlying situations and important staff. This will assist save lives and alleviate the burden on international locations’ well being methods, he mentioned. 

Tedros additionally mentioned “individuals must play their part” by sporting masks, social distancing and washing their fingers steadily. He added that governments can keep away from stay-at-home orders by implementing focused responses to outbreaks by means of testing, contact tracing and isolating.

“If countries are serious about opening up, they must be serious about suppressing transmission and saving lives,” he mentioned. “This may seem like an impossible balance, but it’s not. It can be done and it has been done.”

Tedros added that the WHO just lately revealed steerage on how accommodations, cargo ships and fishing vessels can safely resume operations as “part of our commitment to supporting every sector to reopen as safely as possible.”

WHO officers mentioned the so-called new regular will embrace at the least some mitigation measures, corresponding to social distancing and masks sporting. The group has beforehand mentioned that such measures will seemingly have to be adopted in lots of international locations even after a vaccine is ultimately dropped at market. 

Dozens of vaccine producers have launched trials for his or her coronavirus vaccine candidates, in response to the WHO, and at the least two have began massive section three trials. Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, mentioned over the weekend that his company would contemplate issuing an emergency use authorization for a vaccine earlier than its section three scientific trial is absolutely full. 

But Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, warned Monday that authorizing a vaccine too early and with too little information may create quite a lot of issues. 

“The risk of approving a vaccine prematurely for us is that, first of all, it will make it very difficult to continue with randomized clinical trials,” she mentioned. “And secondly, there’s a risk of introducing a vaccine that’s been inadequately studied and might turn out to have a low efficacy, thereby not doing the job of bringing an end to this pandemic or even worse, have a safety profile that’s not acceptable.” 

She added that the emergency use of a vaccine must be carried out “with a great deal of seriousness,” significantly as a result of it may result in opposed uncomfortable side effects in some elements of the inhabitants. She added that the choice must be made utilizing as a lot security and efficacy information as is doable.

“Scientists around the world are united in a call for agencies and for companies, and most companies have supported this stance, that the approval of a vaccine must be based on data from phase three clinical trials,” Swaminathan mentioned.

Dr. Mike Ryan, govt director of the WHO’s well being emergencies program, echoed Swaminathan in saying that amassing and monitoring huge quantities of information is essential as nations begin distributing vaccines to their basic inhabitants. As the vaccine is launched to bigger and maybe extra numerous elements of the inhabitants, destructive uncomfortable side effects may emerge, underscoring the significance of the assortment of security information.

“The difficulty and the the challenge with the vaccine is, at the moment, we’re moving from vaccinating tens or hundreds of people to now vaccinating thousands of people,” he mentioned. “We need to get the safety and efficacy data from those studies. Because if you move too quickly to vaccinating millions or hundreds of millions or billions of people, we may miss certain adverse events that you won’t pick up with smaller numbers so you need to maintain monitoring.”

Earlier this month, Russia introduced that it could authorize a vaccine that it calls Sputnik V, named for the world’s first satellite tv for pc, launched in 1957, earlier than section three information was accessible. Medical professionals round the world criticized the transfer, saying it stays unclear whether or not the vaccine is protected and efficient.

Ryan added that there are strict rules round emergency use of vaccines and medicines in the European Union and the U.S. in addition to in elements of Africa and India. It’s essential that governments are led by their regulatory businesses, he mentioned.

“Each country has a sovereign right to define its policy for vaccination or any other therapeutic intervention in its population, but it must be guided by the highest possible ethical standards, the highest possible scientific standards,” he mentioned.

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