Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID – 19): WHO Update (28 September 2020)

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  • United Nations published this video item, entitled “Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID – 19): WHO Update (28 September 2020)” – below is their description.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that it has reach an agreement with its partners to make some 120 million COVID-19 rapid tests available to low and middle-income countries. Speaking at a press conference in Geneva today (28 Sep), WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the tests provide “reliable results in approximately 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment.” Dr Tedros said volume guarantee agreements have been developed between two manufacturers and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which would make “120 million of these new highly portable and easy-to-use rapid diagnostic tests available over a period of six months.” He added, “Currently they’re priced at a maximum of 5 US dollars per unit, these are already substantially cheaper than PCR tests and we expect the price to come down.” Dr Catharina Boehme, Chief Executive Officer at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), said testing is at the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said, “It is our first line of defense, critical for countries to track, trace, and isolate to stop the spread of the virus and to ensure that we’re not flying blind.” Boehme said the pandemic exposed the weaknesses in testing in health systems of all countries across the world. She added, “In low and middle-income countries, however, it’s vital that testing levels are dramatically increased with great urgency.” Global Fund Executive Director Peter Sands said being able to deploy quality antigen Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) will be a “significant step forward in enabling countries to contain and combat COVID-19.” He stressed that the tests are “not a silver bullet”, however they are “hugely valuable as a compliment to PCR tests; since although they’re a bit less accurate, they’re much faster, cheaper, and don’t require a lab.” Unitaid Director of Programmes Robert Matiru said the testing gap in low- and middle-income countries compared to high income countries is “staggering.” He said, “It’s 10 times less in low- and middle-income countries. Of course, having a test that can be simply used, that’s high performing and that’s affordable can be a game changer in accelerating the number of tests that can be performed and also closing this gap.” Africa CDC Director Dr John Nkengasong said the African continent has conducted just under 15 million tests. He stressed that this is not because Africa lacks the knowledge to test, but it is “essentially because the current tools that we have do not enable us to fulfill those four criteria that is: easy to use, affordable, scalable, and reliable.” WHO COVID-19 Technical lead Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said PCR testing is being conducted in every country. She said, “We cannot overemphasize enough how incredible this is and this rapid increase in the ability of countries to, one, get access to this test, and two, to have the facilities and the work staff to be able to do that.” Van Kerkhove said challenge with PCR testing in many countries right now is the turnaround time. She added, “There’s a cost issue because the antigen-based tests are cheaper, certainly, and they’re faster, but for the PCR test, it does take some time in some countries to get those results back. They can be done in hours but oftentimes the results come back in days. And that poses a challenge to control efforts in the actions that are necessary.”

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    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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