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WHO focus on Critical unknowns of SARS-CoV-2

Animal source, viral dynamics, co-infection have to be studied

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus “The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come". 

By B N Kumar

MUMBAI, Aug 1, 2020 (Samachar Connect): The World Health Orgnisation’s Emergency Committee on COVID-19 has unanimously agreed that the outbreak still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

At its fourth meeting held yesterday, the committee highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts.

It called for accelerate research into remaining SARS-CoV-2 critical unknowns, such as the animal source and potential animal reservoirs, and improve understanding of the epidemiology and severity of COVID-19, including its long-term health effects, viral dynamics such as modes of transmission, shedding, potential mutations, immunity and correlates of protection, co-infection as well as risk factors and vulnerabilities and the effectiveness of public health measures.

The committee also advised countries to strengthen public health surveillance for case identification and contact tracing, including in low-resource, vulnerable, or high-risk settings and to maintain essential health services with sufficient funding, supplies, and human resources.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus “The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come". 

"Many countries that believed they were past the worst are now grappling with new outbreaks. Some that were less affected in the earliest weeks are now seeing escalating numbers of cases and deaths. And some that had large outbreaks have brought them under control," Dr Tedros told the Committee.

The Committee advised WHO to continue to mobilize global and regional multilateral organizations and partners for COVID-19 preparedness and response, to support Member States in maintaining health services, while accelerating the research and eventual access to diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

It advised countries to support these research efforts, including through funding, and to join in efforts to allow equitable allocation of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines by engaging in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator among other initiatives.

The committee also advised countries to strengthen public health surveillance for case identification and contact tracing, including in low-resource, vulnerable, or high-risk settings and to maintain essential health services with sufficient funding, supplies, and human resources.

Countries were advised to implement proportionate measures and advice on travel, based on risk assessments, and to review these measures regularly.

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