Global experts mobilise under WHO to create COVID-19 vaccine

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that a group of experts in diverse fields has come together to fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, by seeking to formulate a vaccine to cure positive cases.

In December last year, the WHO was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia from an unknown cause being detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Chinese authorities then identified the causative virus as a novel coronavirus which was later named the SARS-CoV-2; the respiratory disease caused by the virus was named COVID-19 by WHO on February 11, 2020.

As part of WHO’s response to the outbreak, it was revealed via a press statement that a Research and Development (R&D) Blueprint was activated to accelerate the ‘development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics, for this novel coronavirus.

“Under WHO’s coordination, a group of experts with diverse backgrounds is working towards the development of vaccines against COVID-19. The group makes a call to everyone to follow recommendations to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus and protect the health of individuals. The group also thanks everyone for putting their trust in the scientific community,” the Organisation indicated.

The members of the group hail from the United States of America, Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, Spain, the Netherlands, Japan, Austria, the Republic of Korea, France, China, South Africa, and Germany among other leading nations.

In its declaration, the group assured, “While a vaccine for general use takes time to develop, a vaccine may ultimately be instrumental in controlling this worldwide pandemic. In the interim, we applaud the implementation of community intervention measures that reduce spread of the virus and protect people, including vulnerable populations, and pledge to use the time gained by the widespread adoption of such measures to develop a vaccine as rapidly as possible.”

As of Thursday, there were 1,991,562 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 130,885 deaths reported to the WHO. With no vaccine thus far, it was predicted that it would take some months before one is authorised.

For now, some countries have opted to use anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treatment of the disease.

The WHO has debunked a common myth that the virus cannot spread in warmer temperatures. In fact, it noted, “You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.”

Additionally, most people who contract the virus can recover, completely eliminating the virus from within their bodies. It is not lifelong and consuming alcohol does not protect against the disease.

“If you catch the disease, make sure you treat your symptoms. If you have cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early – but call your health facility by telephone first,” the WHO urged. “Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.”