WHO says research on coronavirus vaccines and treatments has “accelerated at an incredible speed”

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Research to develop vaccines and treatments to fight the coronavirus has “accelerated at an incredible speed,” World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

“The viral genome was mapped in early January and shared globally, which has made it possible to develop tests and start research on vaccines,” he said at a press conference at headquarters. of the organization in Geneva. He said more than 70 countries have joined the WHO trial to accelerate research on effective treatments and “about 20 institutions and companies are rushing to develop a vaccine.”

Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO emergency program, said an ongoing trial will examine prophylaxis in healthcare workers to see if there is evidence that lower doses drugs like hydroxychloroquine would reduce their risk of becoming infected in a healthcare environment. .

Tedros said that WHO will soon announce an initiative for accelerated development and equitable distribution of vaccines.

“We will put in place a mechanism and appoint senior executives from the North and the South who will determine in detail how they can speed up production, but at the same time how they can ensure equitable distribution,” he said. “When a vaccine or drug is ready, we need to be able to deliver it anywhere in the world. There should be no division between the haves and the have-nots. “

Last month, New York State began the first large-scale clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for coronavirus after the Food and Drug Administration accelerated the approval process.

President Donald Trump said chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could be game-changers, even though the drugs have not been subjected to rigorous clinical trials to combat CV-19, which has infected more than one million people worldwide in just over three months. Trump last month asked the FDA to review whether the drugs can be used to prevent or treat the coronavirus.

Chloroquine attracted a lot of attention after a small study of 36 COVID-19 patients published March 17 in France found that most patients taking the drug cleared the coronavirus from their systems much faster than the control group. Adding azithromycin, commonly known as Z-Pak, to the mixture “was significantly more effective in removing viruses,” said the researchers. A small study in China also found that the combination of chloroquine with azithromycin was “more effective than chloroquine”.

Last week, WHO said initial research has shown that certain drugs “can have an impact” on the fight against coronavirus, but the data is extremely preliminary and more research is needed to determine if treatments can work. reliably combat COVID-19.

There is “some preliminary data from non-randomized studies, observational studies, which indicate that certain drugs and certain drug cocktails can have an impact,” said Ryan.

“Some of these drugs may have an impact on the duration of the disease, others may have an impact on the severity of the disease and the dosages of these drugs when administered to which patient at what stage of the disease.” ‘Wasn’t standardized,’ said Ryan. “We never had a comparison group where we had a random approach to treatment with the drug or not with the drug. “

“To be clear, there is no drug or drug that is effective against COVID-19,” he added.

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