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WHO director-general says pandemic can be brought under control within months

World has tools to curb pandemic if applied ‘consistently and equitably’

The world can bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control in a ‘matter of months’, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (pictured above) said during a news briefing yesterday.

In the news briefing, Ghebreyesus added that the WHO has expressed its interest in establishing a ‘COVID-19 technology transfer hub’ for mRNA vaccines, in a bid to bolster production of this type of vaccine in low- and middle-income countries.

“We are calling for the original manufacturers of mRNA vaccines to contribute their technology and know-how to a central hub, and for manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries to express interest in receiving that technology,” he added.

The call for technology transfer follows the news that over three million deaths from COVID-19 have been reported to WHO across the globe.

Ghebreyesus said that infections and hospitalisations are also growing among people aged 25 to 59 ‘at an alarming rate’ due to highly transmissible variants and increased social mixing among younger adults.

This includes variants discovered in the UK, Brazil, South Africa and most recently India.

In particular, the Indian variant – also known as B.1.617 – has some ‘potentially’ important mutations that could help it escape some immunity.

This includes two key mutations - L452R, which could help it to escape some antibodies produced by vaccination and E484Q, which has similarities to the E484K found in the South African variant which helps it to become ‘at least partially’ resistant to COVID-19 vaccines, according to The Guardian.

Currently, health officials in the UK are investigating the B.1.617 variant to definitively determine if it is more transmissible and/or can evade vaccines.

According to Susan Hopkins of Public Health England, there is not yet enough data to classify the Indian variant as a ‘variant of concern’ – a term which has been used to described the variants discovered in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

Even so, yesterday the UK added India to a ‘red list’ of countries from which travel to and from the UK is mostly banned due to the new variant.

At the same time, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock announced that there had been 103 UK cases of the Indian variant, with most of these cases linked to international travel.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

20th April 2021

From: Healthcare

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