Despite a string of promising virus research efforts, we may never have a perfect vaccine against the coronavirus, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, warned on Monday in Geneva.
“We all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection,” Tedros said at an online press conference. “However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment – and there might never be. For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control.”
He was speaking after a meeting of the WHO’s emergency committee on COVID-19 which reviewe both recent events of the pandemic and the international efforts for a vaccine. He also warned that while virological research efforts were impressive, many countries around the world are now facing a second spike in new coronavirus infections that are far worse than the first wave was.
Tedros has been blamed for a lack of action during the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, including the WHO continuously downplaying the crisis, shielding China from criticism, and advocacy for keeping international borders open. The U.S. government responded by dropping funding for the WHO.
According to the latest data, the number of new cases hit a fresh peak of 289,604 on July 24 and another almost as high number (289,536) on July 31. The total number of cases has reached a global 18,447723 and the casualty count stands at 697,244.
Tedros also said that the WHO and China will begin epidemiological studies in the Wuhan region in an attempt to pinpoint the “potential source of infection” and the inception of the pandemic, forming the basis of long-term studies.
At the same virtual press conference, Mike Ryan, WHO emergencies director, urged nations the strictly enforce basic protective measures such as wearing face masks, respecting social distancing, washing hands regularly, and meeting testing demand.
“Some countries are really going to have to take a step back now and really take a look at how they are addressing the pandemic within their national borders,” Ryan said. “The way out is long and requires a sustained commitment.”
He warned that countries with a high infection rate such as India and Brazil are in for a severe and sustained battle. The three countries with the highest total number of cases are the United States (4,862,210), Brazil (2,751,665) and India (1,856,754).
Title image: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (Naohiko Hatta/Pool Photo via AP)