WHO hopes to have vaccine for COVID-19 ready in 18 months
Marje Pelayo • February 12, 2020 • 2030
GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday (February 11) that it takes time to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus now named COVID-19.
However, the international health body hopes to have an effective vaccine within 18 months.
“The development of vaccines and therapeutics is one important part of the research agenda. But it’s not only one part. They will take time to develop — but in the meantime, we are not defenseless,” said WHO Chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference at the agency’s headquarters.
“The first vaccine could be ready in 18 months, so we have to do everything today using the available weapons to fight this virus, while preparing for the long-term,” he added.
He noted, however, that even though WHO already named the new virus as COVID-19, there are still many unknown factors that are preventing scientists from finding an exact cure.
“It’s hard to believe that just two months ago, this virus – which has come to captivate the attention of media, financial markets and political leaders – was completely unknown to us,” Tedros said.
“To defeat this outbreak, we need answers to all those questions and more,” he added.
During briefing, the official labeled the disease as “public enemy number one” that poses a global threat, despite most of the cases being confined in mainland China.
“With 99 percent of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world,” the official noted.
So far, Dr. Tedros said, WHO is working with countries to strengthen laboratory capacity around the world, ensuring enough supplies of testing kits and protective equipment for health workers and training them to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.
What’s important for now, he added, is for every individual to become part of the preventive strategy.
At least, he explained, individuals should be sensitive not only of his or her own health but also of the people around.
“And we’re keeping the public informed about what everyone can do to protect their own health and that of others,” he said.
“That’s why reaching out to the public directly and telling them the precautions they should take,” he added.
Dr. Tedros reiterated the basic preventive measures that people should religiously practice while there remains no cure for the coronavirus disease.
“Clean your hands regularly, either with alcohol-based rub or soap and water. Keep your distance from someone who is coughing or sneezing. And when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow,” he concluded.
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said it has detected more cases of Covid-19 variants in the country.
This was based on the latest whole-genome sequencing report of the Philippine Genome Center and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) which included samples from the crew members of the MV Athens Bridge, returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) with relevant travel history, and deceased severe or critical COVID-19 cases.
The DOH reported the detection of ten (10) B.1.617.2 (India) variant cases, thirteen (13) B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom) variant cases, seven (7) B.1.351 (South Africa) variant cases, and one (1) P.3 (Philippines) variant case among the thirty-seven (37) samples sequenced last May 14, 2021.
B.1.617.2 VARIANT CASES:
Of the 10 new B.1.617.2 variant cases, one is a seafarer who came from Belgium and the other nine are crew members of MV Athens Bridge.
The DOH said, the seafarer disembarked in Belgium and flew back to Manila via the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He arrived in the Philippines on a flight last April 24, 2021 and has completed his isolation period last May 13, 2021.
Meanwhile, four of the nine crew members remain admitted at a hospital in Manila and are currently in stable condition while the other five are currently in an isolation facility.
These 10 B.1.617.2 variant cases are in addition to the first two cases previously reported last May 11, bringing the total to 12.
The DOH reiterates that all of the close contacts of the first two cases of B.1.617.2, have completed the prescribed 14-day quarantine and have been discharged from their quarantine facility.
Of the three initially reported COVID-19 positive cases that are close contacts of the 2nd case in the plane, one was sent for sequencing but was not detected to harbor a variant of concern (VOC).
B.1.1.7 VARIANT CASES:
Of the 13 new B.1.1.7 variant cases detected, three (3) are ROFs and 10 are local cases. Based on the case line list, one case has died while 12 have been tagged as recovered.
B.1.351 VARIANT CASES:
Out of the additional seven B.1.351 variant cases, two (2) are ROFs, two (2) are local cases, and three (3) cases are currently being verified if they are local or ROF cases. Based on the case line list, two cases are still active while one has died and four have recovered.
P.3 VARIANT CASES:
The new P.3 variant case is a local case with an address in Region IX. The case died last February 28, 2021.
At present, the P.3 variant is not identified as a variant of concern. This variant is currently being investigated and information continually collected to determine its public health implication.
Amid implementation of stricter border control measures, the DOH reminded the public anew to observe minimum public health standards and immediately get vaccinated when it’s their turn.
The agency said, strict adherence to these measures can prevent infection and further mutation of COVID-19.
“A low transmission rate means fewer chances for the virus to mutate,” the DOH said.
MANILA, Philippines — Maaari nang makabalik sa trabaho ang nasa 200-libong empleyado matapos na ibalik sa general community quarantine “with heightened restrictions” ang National Capital Region (NCR) at mga karatig-lalawigan.
Ayon kay Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, magiging daan ang paglipat sa GCQ ng NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, at Laguna – tinatawag na NCR Plus – upang mapababa ang bilang ng mga nawalan ng trabaho noong kasagsagan ng enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“As we further open the economy, we are expecting to bring back 200,000 to 300,000 jobs to lessen the number workers displaced since the start of the ECQ,” ani Lopez.
Noong nasa ilalim ng ECQ ang NCR Plus, umabot sa 1.5 milyon ang bilang ng mga Pilipino nawalan ng trabaho dahil sa coronavirus pandemic.
Nabawasan ito at naging isang milyon noong ipinatupad ang modified ECQ.
Ayon kay Lopez, sa ngayon ay aabot pa sa 700-libong manggagawa ang hindi pa rin nakakabalik sa trabaho dahil sa limitadong operasyon ng ilang establisimyento gaya ng mga restaurant, at barbershop. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said it is not recommending the proposal to use a “vaccine pass” that would allow persons already inoculated against COVID-19 to have access to business establishments.
“Hindi po kami sang-ayon sa ganyang pagpapalakad o kaya ay magkaron tayo ng mga ganyang proseso,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergere said in a virtual press briefing.
Vergeire said the DOH is not in favor of the proposal as there is no sufficient evidence yet to say that a person who has already received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine can no longer be infected or spread the virus.
She added that initial studies have shown that the currently available vaccines against coronavirus cannot adequately block the virus.
“Wala pa ho tayong sufficient evidence to say na ang isang taong with complete doses of vaccines already would have that kind of immunity, na hindi na siya magkakaroon ng sakit o makakapanghawa dahil nga po dito sa mga paunang mga ebidensiya na ibinigay sa atin, hindi po nakakapag-block ng transmission adequately ang mga bakuna na mayroon tayo ngayon,” she said.
“As we have said, ang pinaka-assurance o benepisyong nakukuha natin ngayon sa vaccines is reducing severe infections and hospitalization. As to preventing mild to moderate infections, hindi pa rin po tayo nagbibigay ng ganyang assurance sa ating mga kababayan,” she added.
Vergeire also reminded the public, especially those who have completed the two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, to still observe health protocols against COVID-19.
“Even if you are fully vaccinated, meaning you have completed two doses, kailangan pa rin natin magpatupad ng minimum health protocols,” she said.
“Itong sinasabing vaccine pass ay hindi pa rin mairerekomenda ng Kagawaran ng Kalusugan,” she added.
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