WHO calls for more research on asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19

Agencies
June 11, 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that more research needs to be done to better understand the extent to which COVID-19 is being spread by people who don't show symptoms.

"Since early February, we have said that asymptomatic people can transmit COVID-19, but that we need more research to establish the extent of asymptomatic transmission," the WHO chief said at a virtual press conference from Geneva on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

"That research is ongoing, and we're seeing more and more research being done," he added.

Saying that the world has been achieving a lot in knowing the new virus, the WHO chief told reporters that "there's still a lot we don't

"WHO's advice will continue to evolve as new information becomes available," he said.

Tedros stressed that the most critical way to stop transmission is to find, isolate and test people with symptoms, and trace and quarantine their contacts.

"Many countries have succeeded in suppressing transmission and controlling the virus doing exactly this," Tedros said.

Meanwhile, Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Program, said Wednesday that the COVID-19 pandemic is still evolving.

"If we look at the numbers... this pandemic is still evolving. It is growing in many parts of the world," he said. "We have deep concerns that health systems of some countries are struggling, under a huge strain and require our support, our help and our solidarity."

He said "each and every country has a different combination of risks and opportunities, and it's really down to national authorities to carefully consider where they are in the pandemic."

In Europe, the risk issue now are about travels and the opening of the schools, around risk management, mass gathering, surveillance and contact tracing, said the WHO official.

In Southeast Asian countries, where to a great extent transmissions have been under control, governments are more concerned about the re-emergence of clusters, while in South America, the issue of PPE for health workers has not gone away, said Ryan.

As regards Africa, Ryan said the death rates have been very low in the past week, but the health system can be overwhelmed, as it would have to cope with other diseases such as malaria.

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Agencies
January 2,2021

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New Delhi, Jan 2: India has approved the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, paving the way for a huge immunisation campaign in the world's second most populous country.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters on Saturday the vaccine had been approved on Friday, confirming what sources close to the matter had told Reuters.

It is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved for emergency use by India, which has the highest number of infections after the United States.

Javadekar said at least three more vaccines were waiting in line to be approved.

"India is perhaps the only country where at least four vaccines are getting ready," he said.

"One was approved yesterday for emergency use, Serum's COVISHIELD." he said, referring to the fact that the shot is being made locally by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

India has reported more than 10 million Covid-19 cases, though its rate of infection has come down significantly from a mid-September peak.

The country hopes to inoculate 300 million of its 1.35 billion people in the first six to eight months of 2021.

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Agencies
January 6,2021

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Geneva, Jan 6: The 'UK' coronavirus variant had been detected in 41 countries/territories, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.

"As of 5 January 2021, the VOC-202012/01 variant initially detected in the United Kingdom has been detected in a small number of cases in 40 other countries/territories/areas in five of the six WHO regions, and the 501Y.V2 variant initially detected in South African in six other countries/territories/areas," the WHO said.

On December 14, 2020, the UK announced that a new coronavirus strain had been detected in the country, with the new variant being 70 per cent more transmissible.

After the news emerged, many countries suspended travel to and from the UK.

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Agencies
January 1,2021

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Geneva, Jan 1: The World Health Organisation says it has cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, meaning poorer countries may soon get access to the shot already available in Europe and North America.

Every country that has a drug regulatory agency will have to issue its own approval for any COVID-19 vaccine, but countries with weak systems usually rely on WHO to vet the shots.

The global body said late Thursday that the decision to issue its first emergency use validation for a COVID-19 vaccine "opens the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine."

The UN health agency said its review found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has already received clearance in the United States, Britain, the European Union and a dozen other countries, "met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO."

The BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at ultra-frozen temperatures, a big hurdle for developing countries where the required freezers and reliable electricity supply may not be available.

"This requirement makes the vaccine more challenging to deploy in settings where ultra-cold chain equipment may not be available or reliably accessible," WHO said, adding that it was "working to support countries in assessing their delivery plans and preparing for use where possible".

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