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Coronavirus vaccine won't end pandemic alone, WHO warns

Agencies/Geneva, Switzerland
Filed on August 22, 2020 | Last updated on August 22, 2020 at 08.45 am
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(Reuters)

WHO chief Tedros says no guarantee yet that a vaccine will be safe and effective and other measures must be taken.

The public and world leaders have a great responsibility to learn to manage Covid-19 and make permanent adjustments to their daily lives to help diminish the virus's spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

The global health agency said that, throughout history, epidemics and pandemics have changed economies and societies for ever.

Also read:Covid-19: WHO hopes end to coronavirus pandemic in 'less than two years'

WHO said that a vaccine would be a "vital tool" in the global battle against Covid-19, but it won't end the Covid-19 pandemic on its own and conceded there's no guarantee scientists will find one.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added during a news conference from the agency's Geneva headquarters: "At the same time, we will not, we cannot go back to the way things were."

"In particular, the Covid-19 pandemic has given new impetus to the need to accelerate efforts to respond to climate change," Tedros added. "The Covid-19 pandemic has given us a glimpse of our world as it could be: cleaner skies and rivers."

The virus has infected more than 23 million people worldwide and killed over 800,000 in more than seven months, according latest statistics.

There are at least 30 potential vaccines currently in clinical trials, according to the WHO.

However, there is no guarantee they will be safe and effective, Tedros warned.

Even though human trials for potential vaccines are progressing well, scientists say key questions remain about their effectiveness.

While numerous research papers and studies have been produced on the virus, which was discovered in Wuhan, China, last December, experts still don't fully understand how it affects the body or how well someone is protected from possible reinfection.

Earlier this month, Tedros said there was no "silver bullet" to the coronavirus and "there might never be."

On Friday, he said world leaders can quell fresh outbreaks by following the "basics" of public health and disease control.

"Testing, isolating and treating patients and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all. Inform, empower and listen to communities. Do it all," he said on August 3.

Tedros added on Friday that "every single person" can make a difference in the pandemic.

"Every person and family has a responsibility to know the level of Covid-19 transmission locally and to understand what they can do to protect themselves and others," he said.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO's emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, stressed that it's "very important" for the public to learn "how to live with this virus."

That will help "continue to suppress transmission, identify cases and clusters that pop up so we can quickly put those out and minimise as many deaths as possible," she said. "In doing so, some countries may need to implement some measures again."

Van Kerkhove said by using data, some countries are now opting to enforce social-distancing measures in areas where the virus is spreading at a high level.

"What we are seeing now is a targeted approach to adding interventions that need to be put in place to get outbreaks under control and reduce the number of infections that are happening," she said.


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