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Last Updated : Oct 15, 2020 05:40 PM IST | Source: PTI

Handwashing an effective tool to prevent COVID-19, other diseases: WHO

Global Handwashing Day is observed on October 15 each year to raise awareness and highlight the importance of handwashing as an effective means of disease prevention. This year it marks a critical reminder for the world that this simple, cost-effective practice can save lives, said the WHO.

PTI
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Representational picture

Ten months into the pandemic, handwashing with soap and other public health measures such as maintaining physical distance, practising cough etiquette and wearing a mask remain the best defence against coronavirus, the World Health Organisation said

Global Handwashing Day is observed on October 15 each year to raise awareness and highlight the importance of handwashing as an effective means of disease prevention. This year it marks a critical reminder for the world that this simple, cost-effective practice can save lives, said the WHO.

"Handwashing has always been one of the most effective ways of keeping diseases at bay. It is a simple act that pays in dividends when it comes to keeping ourselves healthy and safe. Handwashing is also one of the key cornerstones of COVID-19 prevention.

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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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"Now more than ever as we embrace the new normal and live with COVID-19, hand hygiene needs to become an integral part of our daily routine and our lives as we live through this pandemic and beyond to protect us from diseases," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the regional director of the WHO South-East Asia Region.

The world health body said with COVID-19 transmission mainly spreading between people through direct, indirect – through contaminated objects or surfaces – or close contact with infected people via mouth and nose secretions, washing hands with soap and running water was of critical importance.

"To stop the spread of COVID-19, along with other COVID appropriate behaviours, the practice of handwashing at regular intervals is a must, after coughing or sneezing, when caring for the sick, after using the toilet, before eating, while preparing food and after handling animals or animal waste.
“Handwashing after touching common surfaces such as doorknobs or handles, or after one comes back home from visiting a public place will keep ourselves and others around us safe," it said.

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First Published on Oct 15, 2020 05:40 pm
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