Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID – 19): WHO Update (18 August 2020)

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, today (18 Aug) said, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic “has to be collective,” and “sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each countries’ national interest.”

Dr Tedros said, “this is not charity, we have learned the hard way that the fastest way to end this pandemic and to reopen economies is to start by protecting the highest risk populations everywhere, rather than the entire populations of just some countries.”

The WHO official said, “the allocation of vaccines is proposed to be rolled out in two phases. In phase 1, doses will be allocated proportionally to all participating countries simultaneously to reduce overall risk. In phase 2, consideration will be given to countries’ in relation to threat and vulnerability.”

Front line workers in health and social care settings, he said,” are prioritised as they are essential to treat and protect the population and come in close contact with high-mortality risk groups.”

Calling for solidarity to provide a joint solution to the pandemic, Dr Tedros said, “the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility is the critical mechanism for joint procurement and pooling risk across multiple vaccines, which is why today I sent a letter to every member state encouraging them to join the COVAX facility.”

Assistant Director-General Mariângela Simão said that by joining the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility, countries are “betting on a larger number of vaccine candidates,” adding that, “what we see, especially in the past two weeks, is an increasing convergence around the need to find a global solution in the commitment to ensure that once we have a vaccine that’s both safe and efficacious, that there is equitable access to all countries at the end of the day.”

For her part, WHO’s COVID-19 Technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, said, “many of the physical distancing and public health and social measures that have been put in place, which keeps people apart, may have actually played a role in reducing circulation of influenza.”

Van Kerkhove said, “I think we need to be careful about making an assessment of what may happen in the Northern hemisphere for a number of reasons. First of all, we need to continue to test for influenza all across the globe. So, the systems that are in place that are testing for COVID must continue to test for flu, that’s first and foremost. Secondly, we do have a vaccine for influenza and so it’s important that people get vaccinated against influenza when that vaccine becomes available. That’s really important because it will be quite difficult if somebody is infected with either COVID or flu and they have a flu-like illness or cold-like symptoms, we won’t be able to distinguish immediately between whether somebody has flu or whether somebody has COVID.”

On schools reopening, she said, “we understand that schools operate in communities. Schools are not in isolation. So, if the virus is circulating in communities, if the virus is circulating around that school, where the children live, where the people who work at that school live, there’s a possibility that the virus can enter the school system.”

Van Kerkhove said, “it is really important that we open schools safely, but they need to be done in the context of the wider circulation of the virus.”

According to the WHO’s latest COVID-19 situation report, there are 21,294,845 confirmed cases worldwide, leading to 761,779 confirmed deaths.

In This Story: COVID-19

Covid-19 is the official WHO name given to the novel coronavirus which broke out in late 2019 and began to spread in the early months of 2020.

Symptoms of coronavirus

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a persistent new cough (non productive, dry)
  • a high temperature (e.g. head feels warm to the touch)
  • shortness of breath (if this is abnormal for the individual, or increased)

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