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Coronavirus: fight will be long, warns WHO

By AFP | April 23rd 2020 at 08:30:36 GMT +0300

A researcher from the University of Copenhagen is working on a vaccine against the new coronavirus, March 23, 2020.

The new coronavirus, against which vaccine trials are underway, is not about to be defeated, warned on Wednesday the World Health Organization at a time when containment measures are gradually being eased in certain countries.

"Make no mistake: we still have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time," warned WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from Geneva.

While anti-containment demonstrations arise here and there, as in the United States and Brazil, the head of the WHO estimated that these "rallies will only fuel the epidemic".

In countries, especially in Europe, where the measures to contain populations implemented last month are starting to be eased, fear of a second wave of contamination is omnipresent and calls for caution frequent.

"One of the greatest dangers facing us today is complacency" in the face of the pandemic, added the head of the WHO, stressing that "the first elements indicate that the major part of the world population remains susceptible "to be infected.

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"We will get by"

The new coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 180,000 people worldwide since its appearance in December in China, according to a report drawn up by AFP from official sources.

While 759 deaths have been recorded in Britain in the past 24 hours, bringing the nation's death toll to 18,000, British health chief Chris Whitty has showered the hopes of those hoping that London will follow suit. European tendency to lighten containment measures in the coming weeks.

"In the long term, we will get by (...) ideally with a very effective vaccine (...) or very effective drugs which will allow people to no longer die from this disease, even if they catch it ", he said.

"Until we have these - and the probability of having them in the coming year is incredibly low, and I think we have to be realistic about it - we will have to count on other measures , social, which are of course very disruptive, "he warned.

The global race to develop a vaccine, in which all nations and all major laboratories and pharmaceutical companies are participating, was relaunched Wednesday with the green light given by the German federal authority responsible for the certification of vaccines to a clinical trial on humans by the BioNTech laboratory, based in Mainz, in association with the American giant Pfizer.

Currently, five vaccine projects around the world are in human trials, but the development of an effective and safe formula should take no less than twelve to 18 months, experts say.

While waiting for this vaccine, which the whole world will want to have at the same time and the obtaining of which risks giving rise to fierce competition, the pandemic will continue to fuel a global economic crisis with unprecedented repercussions.

US President Donald Trump announced Wednesday night that he has signed a decree temporarily limiting immigration to his country.

"This will help ensure that unemployed Americans (...) are the first to benefit from jobs as the economy reopens," he said.

Having become the world's main focus of the epidemic with more than a quarter of the 180,000 deaths recorded, the United States is paying a heavy price, 22 million Americans having registered unemployed in a few weeks.

Accused of having long minimized the scope of the pandemic which forces more than half of humanity to remain confined, Mr. Trump said he suspended the issuance of green cards offering permanent resident status for at least 60 days.

In a world that has come to a standstill, leaders are still trying to curb the effects of an economic crisis that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) describe as the worst since 1945.

The UN is alarmed by a "global humanitarian disaster": the number of people suffering from famine is likely to double to reach "more than 250 million by the end of 2020", she said.

In the United States, as in France or the United Kingdom, many unemployed people must already turn to food banks.

And the temptation is great to revive certain economic activities in the face of the specter of recession.

But "going too fast would be a mistake," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, whose country has, among other things, decided to reopen certain supermarkets.

Berlin and ten of the 16 German federal states have decided to impose the wearing of masks on public transport. Bars, restaurants, cultural places, sports grounds remain closed. Schools and high schools will gradually reopen.

In addition to Germany, Austria, Norway and Denmark are on the way to relaxing their containment measures, while retaining measures of "social distancing".

Second wave

Italy, France, Switzerland, Finland and Romania are also preparing cautious deconfinement.

Car maker Renault has started to boost production in France, which was halted on March 16.

Despite signs of deceleration, the threshold of 112,000 dead has been exceeded on the Old Continent. Italy (25,085 dead) and Spain (21,717) are the most affected countries in Europe, followed by France (21,340) and the United Kingdom (18,100).

In the United States, a senior public health official, Robert Redfield, said he feared for next winter an episode "even more difficult than the one we just experienced", due to a possible coincidence with the seasonal flu .

Cradle of the coronavirus, which left Wuhan at the end of 2019, China also fears a second epidemic wave. In the crosshairs: people from abroad. Faced with this threat, the metropolis of Harbin, close to Russia, on Wednesday tightened its restrictive measures.

Covid 19 Time Series

 


World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO Coronavirus
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