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New coronavirus epidemic at 'decisive point': WHO chief

Urging countries at the early stages of the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease to "move swiftly", he said: "If you act aggressively now, you can contain this virus, you can prevent people getting sick, you can save lives."

February 27, 2020 / 09:18 PM IST

The new coronavirus epidemic is at a "decisive point" globally, World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday, urging affected countries to "move swiftly" to contain the disease. "We're at a decisive point," Tedros told reporters in Geneva.

Pointing to a decline in new cases in China, Tedros said: "It's what's happening in the rest of the world that's now our greatest concern."

Urging countries at the early stages of the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease to "move swiftly", he said: "If you act aggressively now, you can contain this virus, you can prevent people getting sick, you can save lives."

"There does not appear to be widespread community transmission," he added.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Tedros emphasised that all countries should ensure that their health systems were prepared for an outbreak.

"We are actually in a very delicate situation in which the outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it," Tedros said.
PTI
first published: Feb 27, 2020 08:36 pm

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