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Last Updated : Jun 24, 2020 06:17 PM IST | Source: Reuters

All African countries now have coronavirus lab testing capacity: WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also warned that the pandemic was accelerating.

Reuters

All African countries have now developed laboratory capacity to test for the coronavirus, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also warned that the pandemic was accelerating.

"The most recent one million cases of COVID-19 were reported in just one week," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual conference on COVID-19 vaccine development and access across the continent.

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The WHO chief added that over 220 vaccine candidates are currently being worked on and urged that a vaccine be "available and developed at an unprecedented scale."

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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The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control called on countries to secure sufficient vaccine supplies to avoid Africa being left out.

"Unless we act now Africa is at risk of being left behind in the global vaccine race," John Nkengasong said.

Nkengasong suggested a key step would be for Africa to partner with the GAVI vaccines alliance which has raised $2 billion from international donors for an Advanced Market Commitment to buy future COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
First Published on Jun 24, 2020 06:10 pm
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