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WHO – There are no Shortcuts to Combatting COVID-19


by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Although some countries are experiencing decreases in cases, other countries are seeing a resurgence.

Countries in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and of course, countries in the Caribbean, including St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Jamaica, the Bahamas and St. Kitts and Nevis, have all seen a spike in cases recently.

Even with the roll-out of vaccines in these countries, cases continue to rise along with hospitalisations and deaths in some countries.

“As long as this virus is circulating anywhere, it’s a threat everywhere; there are no shortcuts,” said Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, during the media briefing on COVID-19 on August 25.

The director-general says a combination of both the non-pharmaceutical measures and equitable access to vaccines is necessary for combatting and stopping the spread of the virus.

In another vein, in the fight against SAR-CoV2, WHO is still trying to ascertain the origins of the virus and has started a new research group specifically charged with finding the origins of communicable pathogens to be better prepared for future pandemics.

“Even as we remain focused on ending the pandemic, WHO is moving forward with plans to understand its origins. Last Friday, we issued an open call to scientists around the world to apply to the new Strategic Advisory Group for the origins of Northern pathogens or SAGO. SAGO will be composed of experts, acting in their own capacity, not as representatives of member states and will play a vital role in studying the emergence of new pathogens, including the next phase of studies into the origins of SARS-CoV2,” said Dr Ghebreyesus.

The World Health Organisation sent a team of scientists to find the origins of the SARS-CoV2 virus. That team returned earlier this year and provided a report suggesting that finding the source may not be a simple or a timely task.

“The report outlined dozens of recommended studies that need to take place to better understand the early cases, to better understand the animals that were sold in markets; numerous studies going forward, and we have encouraged the urgency in which those studies can be conducted. And in fact, there is no delay, and how those studies can be conducted in China because there are many capable scientists there that can carry those out without delay… One of the responsibilities of the SAGO would be to urgently look to see where do we stand and where do we prioritise what studies need to go forward, but that should not delay and does not delay the advancements of studies that can be ongoing in China to date. In fact, we have heard from Chinese colleagues that studies are underway from some public statements that they have made recently. So again, we want the origins work to remain scientific, transparent, urgent, and inclusive. And we will continue to work with all member states to make sure that we’d better understand how this pandemic began so that we can be better prepared for future ones,” shared Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical Lead at the WHO.


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