Covid-19 @ 6 months: It’s not even close to being over, says WHO chief

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on June 30, 2020

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-general of the World Health Organization   -  REUTERS

It’s been six months since the World Health Organisation (WHO) received first reports of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in China. And this anniversary of the Covid-19 outbreak coincides with the global cases tally reaching one crore (10 million) and the death toll, five lakh, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world ― and our lives ― would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus,” he said, adding, “the pandemic has brought out the best and the worst of humanity.” But as countries re-open their economies and experience a resurgence of Covid-19 cases, most people remain susceptible as “the virus still has a lot of room to move,” he cautioned.

As people want to get on with their lives, he said, “the hard reality is: this is not even close to being over.” The pandemic is speeding up, he said, pointing to a long haul.

In six months, researchers and experts have worked to bring together the evolving science and distil it into guidance. The Solidarity Trial was launched to find effective drugs. “We launched Solidarity Flights to ship millions of test kits and tonnes of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to many countries. We launched the Solidarity Response Fund, which has raised more than $223 million for the response,” he said.

Vaccine initiative

Outlining more such activities, he said the WHO has worked with the European Commission and partners to launch the ACT Accelerator to ensure that once a vaccine is available, it’s available to everyone, especially those who are at the greatest risk.

Last week, the ACT Accelerator Investment Case was launched. It estimated that more than $31 billion will be needed to accelerate the development, equitable allocation and delivery of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics by the end of next year.

“Although a vaccine will be an important long-term tool for controlling Covid-19, there are five priorities that every single country must focus on, to save lives now,” he said.

These include empowering communities with information and measures to stay healthy and safe; suppression of transmission; improve surveillance to find cases; saving lives with accessible medical interventions, accelerating research and showing political leadership to implement a comprehensive strategy.

Published on June 30, 2020

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