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Coronavirus infections rise for first time in 7 weeks: WHO

Tedros said the rise was 'disappointing but not surprising' and urged countries not to relax measures to fight the spread of the disease.

March 01, 2021 / 10:55 PM IST

The number of new coronavirus infections globally rose last week for the first time in seven weeks, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

Tedros said the rise was "disappointing but not surprising" and urged countries not to relax measures to fight the spread of the disease. He suggested that countries were hastening to loosen those measures, betting on vaccines to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If countries rely solely on vaccines, they are making a mistake. Basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response," Tedros said.

He noted that Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire became the first countries on Monday to begin vaccinating people with doses supplied by COVAX, the international programme to provide vaccines for poor and middle-income countries. But he also criticised rich countries for hoarding vaccine doses.

"It's regrettable that some countries continue to prioritise vaccinating younger healthier adults at lower risk of diseases in their own populations, ahead of health workers and older people elsewhere," Tedros said.

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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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Reuters

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