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WHO Head Ghebreyesus Warns Worst Of Coronavirus Is Still Ahead

Tedros alluded to the so-called Spanish flu in 1918 as a reference for the coronavirus outbreak.

Apr 20, 2020 / 11:38 PM IST

The head of the World Health Organization has warned that “the worst is yet ahead of us” in the coronavirus outbreak, raising new alarm bells about the pandemic just as many countries are beginning to ease restrictive measures. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus didn't specify exactly why he believes that the outbreak that has infected nearly 2.5 million people and killed over 166,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University, could get worse.

Some people, though, have pointed to the likely future spread of the illness through Africa, where health systems are far less developed.

Tedros alluded to the so-called Spanish flu in 1918 as a reference for the coronavirus outbreak.

"It has a very dangerous combination and this is happening ... like the 1918 flu that killed up to 100 million people,” he told reporters in Geneva. “But now we have technology, we can prevent that disaster, we can prevent that kind of crisis.”

“Trust us. The worst is yet ahead of us,” he said. “Let's prevent this tragedy. It's a virus that many people still don't understand.”

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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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