Coronavirus Vaccine, Treatment Research ‘Accelerated At Incredible Speed’ - WHO
By Staff, Agencies
Research to develop vaccines and treatments to fight the coronavirus has “accelerated at incredible speed,” World Health Organization [WHO] Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday.
He said more than 70 countries have joined the organization’s trial to accelerate research on effective treatments and “about 20 institutions and companies are racing to develop a vaccine.”
“The viral genome was mapped in early January and shared globally which enabled tests to be developed and vaccine research to start,” Tedros said at a news conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva.
Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s executive director for emergencies program, said one trial underway will look at prophylaxis in health-care workers to see if there’s evidence of giving lower doses of drugs like hydroxychloroquine would reduce their risk of becoming infected while treating patients.
Tedros said the WHO will be announcing an initiative soon for the accelerated development and equitable distribution of vaccines.
“We will put together a mechanism and we will appoint senior people from the north and south that will work out the details of how they can accelerate production but at the same time how they can ensure equitable distribution,” he said. “When a vaccine or a medicine is ready, we have to be able to deliver it to all over the world. There should not be a divide between the haves and the have-nots.”
Last week, WHO said early research showed that some drugs “may have an impact” on fighting the coronavirus, but the data are extremely preliminary and more research needs to be done to determine whether the treatments can reliably fight COVID-19.
There is “some preliminary data from nonrandomized studies, observational studies, that indicate some drugs and some drug cocktails may have an impact,” Ryan said.
“Some of those drugs may impact the length of disease, some may impact the severity of disease and the dosages of those drugs when they’re given to what patient at what stage of the disease has not been standardized,” Ryan said. “We have never had a comparison group where we’ve had a randomized approach to treatment with the drug or not treatment with the drug.”
“So that we’re clear, there’s no proven effective therapeutic or drug against COVID-19,” he added.