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WHO tells countries to improve COVID-19 response instead of waiting for a vaccine
This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.
AFP/Russian Direct Investment Fund, Handout

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

(Philstar.com) - August 19, 2020 - 11:22am

MANILA, Philippines — 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 coronavirus—which could help end the health crisis—at 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, Malacañang 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. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

COVID-19 VACCINE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 1, 2021 - 9:12pm

Pharma giants Sanofi and GSK said on July 29, 2020, that they have agreed to supply Britain with up to 60 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement covers a vaccine candidate developed by France's Sanofi in partnership with the UK's GSK and is subject to a "final contract."

This thread collects some of the major developments in the search for a vaccine to ease the new coronavirus pandemic. (Main photo by AFP/Joel Saget)

March 1, 2021 - 9:12pm

Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday became the first recipient of a coronavirus vaccine under the global Covax scheme, as US health workers prepared to distribute nearly four million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson jab.

Covax, a scheme designed to ensure that poorer countries do not miss out on Covid-19 vaccines that have so far been largely hoovered up by rich nations, is aiming to deliver at least two billion doses by the end of the year.

Akufo-Addo received his AstraZeneca shot live on television along with his wife, a day before the rest of the first batch of 600,000 Covax doses are deployed across Ghana.

"It is important that I set the example that this vaccine is safe by being the first to have it, so that everybody in Ghana can feel comfortable about taking this vaccine," the president said. — AFP

March 1, 2021 - 11:31am

Four million doses of the latest Covid-19 vaccine to get US approval will be delivered across the country as early as Tuesday, a senior administration official said.

The United States on Saturday authorized Johnson & Johnson's Covid vaccine for emergency use, boosting President Joe Biden's plan to battle the outbreak that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.

The single-shot vaccine — the third type to be authorized — is highly effective in preventing severe Covid-19, including against newer variants, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said before giving it a green light. —  AFP

March 1, 2021 - 7:06am

Willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine is on the rise compared to last year, a survey of six industrialised countries published on Monday shows.

More people in the United Kingdom, the United States and even vaccine-sceptical France now accept the idea of getting a coronavirus jab, KekstCNC, an international consultancy, says in the survey conducted in February.

The survey also covers Germany, Japan and Sweden where a similar trend was clear, it says.

"As vaccine rollouts commence, higher numbers of people in all countries say they would take the vaccine," the study says. —  AFP

February 28, 2021 - 6:01pm

Thousands of people demonstrated in cities across Argentina on Saturday to protest the "VIP vaccinations" scandal that forced the health minister to resign.

Gines Gonzalez Garcia quit a week ago at the president's request after it emerged that his friends had been able to skip the line for coronavirus inoculation.

Protesters carrying signs reading "Give me my vaccine" and "Stop wasting our money" gathered outside the government headquarters in Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires.

"They started by vaccinating friends of the government. It is not appropriate. They are stealing someone else's life," protester Irene Marcet told AFP.

Since Argentina began vaccinating its people, only healthcare workers had received the jab until Wednesday, when over-70s in Buenos Aires province were also invited to be immunized.

On Monday, the government released a list of 70 people who received the vaccine outside of the official campaign, which included the 38-year-old economy minister and former president Eduardo Duhalde, his wife and their children. — AFP
 

February 28, 2021 - 9:18am

The United States on Saturday authorized Johnson & Johnson's Covid vaccine for emergency use, giving the nation a third shot to battle the outbreak that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.

The single-shot vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe Covid-19, including against newer variants, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said before giving it a green light.

"This is exciting news for all Americans, and an encouraging development in our efforts to bring an end to the crisis," US President Joe Biden said in a statement.  — AFP

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