GENEVA – The World Health Organization warned on Monday that despite high hopes for a vaccine, there may never be a “quick fix” for COVID-19, and the road to normalcy will be long.
More than 18.14 million people worldwide are believed to have been infected with the disease and 688,080 have died, according to a Reuters tally, with some countries that thought they were on top of the worst are experiencing a resurgence.
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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Emergency Chief Mike Ryan urged all nations to rigorously enforce health measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands and testing.
“The message to people and governments is clear: ‘Do it all,’” Tedros said during a virtual press briefing from the UN headquarters in Geneva. He said face masks should become a symbol of solidarity around the world.
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“A number of vaccines are currently in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent infection. However, there is no quick fix at the moment – and there may never be.
Ryan said countries with high transmission rates, including Brazil and India, need to prepare for a big battle: “The release is long and requires sustained commitment. “
WHO officials said a preliminary investigation team had not yet returned from China, the country of origin of the virus.
A larger team of Chinese and international experts led by the WHO is planned next, to study the origins of the virus in the city of Wuhan, although the timing and composition of this are not yet clear.
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Tedros urged mothers to continue breastfeeding even if they had COVID-19, as the benefits “substantially” outweighed the risks of infection.
The WHO chief said that while the coronavirus was the biggest global health emergency since the turn of the 20th century, the international hunt for a vaccine was also historic.
“There are many vaccines being tested, a few in the late stages of clinical trials – and there is hope. It does not mean that we will have the vaccine, but at least the speed with which we have reached the level that we have reached now is unprecedented, ”he said.
“There are concerns that we may not have a vaccine that will work, or that its protection will only last a few months, not more. But until we finish the clinical trials, we won’t know.
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