A dire lack of protective gear for health workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most pressing threats in the fight to prevent deaths, the World Health Organization warned Friday. "The chronic global shortage of personal protective equipment is now one of the most urgent threats to our collective ability to save lives," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference in Geneva.
He said the WHO had shipped almost two million individual items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to 74 countries and was preparing to send a similar amount to a further 60 countries.
"This problem can only be solved with international cooperation and solidarity," said Tedros.
He said he had urged the G20 countries to use their "industrial might and innovation" to produce and distribute the tools needed to save more lives.
"We must also make a promise to future generations, saying: 'never again'," Tedros added.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
The new coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 25,000 people, with Europe accounting for most of the deaths, according to an AFP tally based on official statistics.
Around 550,000 cases have been registered around the world since the outbreak began in China in December.
Tedros said that more than 100,000 people had now had the virus and recovered.