WHO tells countries to improve COVID-19 response instead of waiting for a vaccine

20-Aug-2020 Intellasia | PhilStar | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The World Health Organization urged governments to focus on improving their response to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease instead of waiting for a vaccine to be developed and distributed.

Scientists around the world are racing to produce vaccines against the coronaviruswhich could help end the health crisisat unprecedented speed. But doctor Takeshi Kasai, WHO Western Pacific regional director, viewed the speed of vaccine development with optimism and caution.

“Even if they can really manage and develop safe and effective vaccine, the production capacity would not really meet the demand coming from the entire world,” Kasai said in a media briefing Tuesday.

“I think what is important is that we continue to improve our response and not just hope for the vaccine,” he added.

For President Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s hope of returning to normalcy rests on the development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. In a speech Monday, he said a vaccine is the “only salvation available to humankind.”

Duterte earlier asked China to give the Philippines priority access to coronavirus vaccines it is developing.

Last week, Malacanang said the Philippines was scheduled to start the clinical trials for Sputnik V, Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, in October. If the trials are successful, it may be registered with the country’s Food and Drug Administration by April next year.

Moscow claimed Sputnik V works even it has not undergone widespread clinical trials.

Doctor Socorro Escalante, WHO Essential Medicines and Health Technologies coordinator, said all candidate vaccines going to production should adhere to safety and efficacy standards.

“WHO on global level continues to coordinate and contact scientists and experts as well as the national regulatory authorities in Russia and we hope to get response in terms of evidence of this new vaccine,” she said.

‘Improve capacity’

The WHO regional director said it was “not important” the Philippines accounted for the most number of virus cases in the Western Pacific region, noting the focus should be on preventing the country’s health system from getting overwhelmed.

Two weeks ago, dozens of doctors’ groups warned the country was losing the coronavirus fight and called for a two-week lockdown in Mega Manila so the government can improve its pandemic response.

Kasai also said the country has been “continuously improving [its] capacity” in testing, contact tracing and health services.

“I think it is very important for the government to continue improving capacity and very important for government to continue [to] communicate with people to encourage them to maintain healthy behavior,” Kasai said.



Category: Philippines

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