WHO Collaborates with Scientists to Speed Up Development of COVID-19 Vaccine

A researcher at Protein Sciences works in a lab in Connecticut. The company is researching a vaccine for COVID-19. (AP photo)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has activated the process that will fast track the development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics for this novel coronavirus.

The virus currently in 185 countries across the globe has so far infected over 1.9 million people and killed 119,000. Covid-19, a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause was brought to the attention of WHO on December 31 last year, having been detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China.

Chinese authorities identified the SARS-CoV-2 as the causative virus on 7 January 2020, and the disease was named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by WHO on 11 February 2020.

WHO declared coronavirus a global pandemic on March 11. The pandemic has brought the global economy to a halt and left millions of people with no livelihoods.

In a bid to slow the spread, countries across the world have been forced to institute stringent measures including closing airports, land borders, enforcing lockdowns to control movement.

On Monday, WHO issued a statement saying a group of scientists have already embarked on developing a vaccine for Covid-19.

“As part of WHO’s response to the outbreak, a Research and Development (R&D) Blueprint has been activated to accelerate the development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics for this novel coronavirus,” a joint statement signed by over 100 scientists from different countries.

“Under WHO’s coordination, a group of experts with diverse backgrounds is working towards the development of vaccines against COVID-19”.

The group is appealing to everyone to follow recommendations to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus and protect the health of individuals.

The scientists stated in a declaration that they are working to help speed the availability of a vaccine against COVID-19.

“While a vaccine for general use takes time to develop, a vaccine may ultimately be instrumental in controlling this worldwide pandemic,” the declaration states.

“In the interim, we applaud the implementation of community intervention measures that reduce spread of the virus and protect people, including vulnerable populations, and pledge to use the time gained by the widespread adoption of such measures to develop a vaccine as rapidly as possible. We will continue efforts to strengthen the unprecedented worldwide collaboration, cooperation and sharing of data already underway”. 

They say these efforts will help reduce inefficiencies and duplication of effort, and we will work tenaciously to increase the likelihood that one or more safe and effective vaccines will soon be made available to all.

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