The good initial results of several experimental vaccines against COVID-19 have brought a certain feeling of euphoria that today the World Health Organization (WHO) asked to moderate, recalling that daily infections continue to break records and the coronavirus continues to be very dangerous.
“This is not the time for complacency,” warned WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has had to spend the last two weeks in isolation for having been in contact with a COVID-19 case.
The announcements of more than 90 percent efficacy in the vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech or the Russian laboratory developing Sputnik V “keep us cautiously optimistic that there will be more means against coronavirus in the coming months,” said the director. general at a press conference.
Tedros also clarified, when asked by journalists, that he has not developed symptoms of the disease since the quarantine began on November 2, but that no tests have been done either.
ONE VACCINE WILL NOT BE ENOUGH TO OVERCOME THE PANDEMIC
Hours earlier, at the WHO Executive Committee meeting, the Ethiopian warned that a possible vaccine against COVID-19 will not be enough by itself to defeat the pandemic and “will only complement other means available, without replacing it” .
Hope in vaccines, he noted, does not hide “extreme concern about the rapid increase in cases, while many health workers are on the edge.”
Last Saturday a record number of 660,000 new infections was registered in just 24 hours, and the daily deaths are also on the rise, so their figures are similar to those of April: only in the past week there were 60,000 deaths, experts recalled from the WHO at today’s press conference.
Tedros also warned that a worrying number of COVID-19 patients are being detected with negative effects on their long-term health, even after overcoming the disease, and recalled that the disease is caused by “a dangerous virus that can attack any system of the organism “.
He assured that all countries have to use all the resources at their disposal to continue fighting the advance of the coronavirus, from the tracking of cases to the quarantines of affected and suspects, and warned that not doing so “can lead to deaths, suffering and effects on their economies. “
The chief scientist of the WHO, Soumya Swaminathan, welcomed the news published today about an efficacy of 94 percent in the vaccine developed by the American firm Moderna, although she noted that “we must take into account more data and expect possible effects on patients for at least two months. “
MODERN COLLABORATES CLOSELY WITH WHO
Moderna, unlike Pfizer-BioNTech, is on the list of anti-covid-19 laboratories financially supported by the WHO and by the international community through the COVAX program and in exchange for its distribution facilities in poor countries.
Swaminathan clarified that before deciding which anticovid vaccines, and from which laboratories, will be distributed globally in this program, different criteria will be taken into account: not only efficacy but also cost, storage facilities, or the number of doses needed, among others.
The expert recalled that, in parallel with COVAX, many pharmaceutical companies have signed bilateral contracts with different countries for the distribution of their possible vaccines, although she hoped that there will be enough production for the 92 low-income countries covered by the WHO program to receive their dose on time.
The WHO expects that in the first months the availability of vaccine doses will be limited, so it recommends prioritizing them in health workers, the elderly and other risk groups.
This, Tedros warned before the WHO Executive Committee, “will still leave a lot of room for the virus to circulate,” so he insisted on not ending prematurely with the measures that now try to control the spread of the coronavirus, such as tracking cases or the quarantines that he himself has had to pass.
On the other hand, today it was revealed that there have been 65 cases of COVID-19 related to WHO staff in Geneva since the beginning of the pandemic, although the technical director of the agency for COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, clarified that only 36 of them were inside the enclosure.