WHO warns there may never be a 'silver bullet' vaccine

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 4 Aug 2020, 6:04PM
(Photo / Getty)

WHO warns there may never be a 'silver bullet' vaccine

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 4 Aug 2020, 6:04PM

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged countries to be diligent in their efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19, as they continue to work towards a vaccine.

The WHO acknowledged the impact the pandemic has caused socially, economically and politically, but said it has put forward a number of recommendations for countries to continue to implement to bring the virus under control.

"These range from sharing best practice, to enhancing political commitment and leadership for national strategies and localised response activities driven by science, data, and experience," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"We know from serology studies that most people remain susceptible to this virus, even in areas that have experienced severe outbreaks.

"Over the past week, we've seen several countries that appeared as though they were past the worst now contending with fresh spikes in cases.

"However, we've also seen how some countries, regions or localities that had a high number of cases are now bringing the outbreak under control."

Ghebreyesus also said the committee had recommended that countries engage in the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, participate in relevant clinical trials, and prepare for safe and effective therapeutics and vaccine introduction.

But he did warn that there might never be a "silver bullet" for Covid-19, despite the "unprecedented" rush by nations across the world to find a vaccine.

"A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection," he said.

"However, there's no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.

"For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control.

"Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all."

New Zealand's Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told Heather du Plessis-Allan that the current plan is focused on keeping Covid-19 out of the country and contained within the isolation facilities, allowing the domestic economy to operate openly. 

He said that it would be a decision for this and subsequent governments about what to do with a border and international travel should a vaccine not come to fruition. 

WHO continues to study the origins of the virus that causes Covid-19, and sent a team to China to lay down the groundwork.

"As a result of these efforts, WHO and Chinese experts have drafted the Terms of Reference for the studies and programme of work for an international team, led by WHO," Ghebreyesus said.

"The international team will include leading scientists and researchers from China and around the world.

"Epidemiological studies will begin in Wuhan to identify the potential source of infection of the early cases.

"Evidence and hypotheses generated through this work will lay the ground for further, longer-term studies."