Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID – 19): WHO Update (31 August 2020)

The Head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Tedros said WHO “fully supports efforts to re-open economies and societies,” however, “we want to see it done safely.”

Speaking to reporters today (31 Aug) in Geneca, Dr Tedros said, “no country can just pretend the pandemic is over. The reality is that this coronavirus spreads easily, it can be fatal to people of all ages, and most people remain susceptible.”

He said, “if countries are serious about opening up, they must be serious about suppressing transmission and saving lives.”

Dr Tedros explained, “this may seem like an impossible balance, but it’s not. It can be done and it has been done. But it can only be done if countries are in control of transmission. The more control countries have over the virus, the more they can open up. Opening up without having control is a recipe for disaster. It’s not one size fits all, it’s not all or nothing.”

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

WHO’s Bruce Aylward said, “there’s different ways in participating, joining forces with and working with the COVAX facility. Remember, the goal here is to make sure that all countries get some vaccine at the same time, we roll it out together rather than some countries get all of the vaccine. Because the goal is to reduce the risk of severe disease globally, as rapidly as possible.”

He continued, “we know who’s at highest risk of severe disease, those proportions are different a little bit around the world of course, we know the people who care for those people who need to be protected as well. So, the goal is to roll it out in a coordinated way.”

WHO’s Dr Maria Van Kerkhove also briefed the reporter. She said, “WHO is working with virologists all over the world, people that have incredible experiences with not only viruses and high threat pathogens, but coronaviruses in particular, and those that who study these full genome sequences and study what these changes mean. Because it’s important that, like I said, that they change naturally, but are these changes important? Do these changes mean that the virus is behaving differently? Do these changes mean that diagnostics may not work or we may need a new type of a vaccine? And, so far, the virus seems relatively stable in the sense that the diagnostics work, the vaccines that are in development, the therapeutics that are in development are still applicable for this virus that is circulating and that’s important.”

She also said, “having somebody test PCR positive doesn’t necessarily mean that they are shedding live virus, that they can actually transmit a live virus to someone else, that they’re infectious to somebody else.”

Kerkhove explained, “what we understand from the data coming from labs is that people can be PCR positive, meaning that we can capture fragments of the virus for many weeks, in fact. And, it depends on how severe of a person is, it depends on how severe their disease is because you can shed virus, you can have a PCR positivity for many, many weeks, but that doesn’t actually mean that you can transmit the virus for that long.”

About This Source - United Nations

The United Nations (UN) was established after World War II with the aim of preventing future wars. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states.

The UN’s chief administrative officer is the Secretary-General, currently Portuguese politician and diplomat António Guterres, who began his five year-term on 1 January 2017.


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