Coronavirus cases stabilize, but outbreak could go any way — WHO

UNTV News   •   February 13, 2020   •   380

SWITZERLAND (Reuters) — The number of cases of infection with the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in China has stabilized, but the apparent slowdown in the epidemic spread should be viewed with “extreme caution”, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday (February 12).

“This outbreak could still go in any direction,” the WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a briefing in Geneva.

At the end of a two-day meeting on science and innovation into measures to tackle the new viral outbreak, Tedros said a WHO-led advance team that travelled to China earlier this week had made good progress on the composition and scope of its work.

He said a cruise ship, the MS Westerdam, which Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Guam and the Philippines had refused to let dock over fears one of its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew might have the virus, would now be allowed into port in Cambodia.

China reported on Wednesday its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in two weeks.

The head of the WHO’s emergency programme, Mike Ryan, said that was reassuring, as was the apparently less aggressive and less accelerated behaviour of the virus outside of Hubei province. But he warned that was no guarantee and said countries must be prepared to deal with the virus while the fight against it went on.

Tedros said the WHO’s greatest fear would be for the virus to spread to unprepared countries like Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where a recent ebola outbreak which has killed 2,249 people is now on the wane.

“Even as the flames of one outbreak begin to die down we are fighting another firefront,” he added.

(Production: Cecile Mantovani/Jim Hatley)

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WHO pauses hydroxychloroquine trial over safety concerns

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

The World Health Organization has suspended testing the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients due to safety concerns, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by U.S. President Donald Trump and others as a possible treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Trump said he was taking the drug to ward off the virus.

The WHO has previously recommended against using hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus infections, except as part of clinical trials.

The decision to pause the trial was done out of an abundance of caution while safety data is reviewed.

The WHO said that other arms of the so-called ‘Solidarity trial’ – a major international initiative to hold clinical tests of potential treatments for the virus – were continuing. (Reuters)

IATF approves Phl participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the proposed participation of the Philippines in clinical trials that seek to formulate a potential vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Based on IATF Resolution No.39 dated May 22, 2020, the task force has also ordered the creation of a sub-technical working group which will be led by the DOST.

The group will be coordinating with the four collaborating organizations composed of the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to the said clinical trials.

The IATF has also issued a directive to the FDA to facilitate the processing of necessary permits for the conduct of the clinical trials in the country.

The collaborating organizations for the clinical trials are the Adimmune Corporation, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Science- Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, the Sinopharm – Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and the Beijing Institute.

Once the clinical trials are undertaken, these will be included in the FDA’s requirements for the registration process for the vaccine and the application for certificate of registration to make the vaccine available in the market.

The Philippines has initially participated in the WHO’s clinical trials, which include the testing of off-label drugs that show potential of being effective against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the IATF has also approved the plans of the DOST to construct research centers for the local vaccine research development.

These include the Virology S&T Institute at the New Clark City in Tarlac and the reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit of the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute. —(from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day, cases near five million

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020

The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday (May 20) for the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations emerge from lockdown.

The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began, as the total number of cases world-wide approached five million.

Speaking at a news conference, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that two thirds of those cases had come from just four countries.

The WHO has come under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump, who accuses it of having mishandled the outbreak and favouring China. This week Trump threatened to withdraw from the WHO and permanently withhold funding.

Tedros acknowledged having received a letter from Trump, but declined to comment further.

In comments that could annoy Trump further, the head of the WHO’s emergency programme, Dr. Mike Ryan, told the press conference that people should avoid using the malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine, except for conditions it is proven to treat. Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus infection.

Tedros said he was committed to accountability. The WHO has announced a review into the response to the pandemic, which emerged in China late last year.

“WHO calls for accountability more than anyone. It has to be done and when it’s done it has to be a comprehensive one,” he said of the review, while declining to give a timeline for it starting. (Reuters)

(Production: Louisa Naks)

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