World Health Organisation makes modest progress in COVID-19 fight Featured

The news about the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, is not all gloomy, as some modest progress is being made across the globe in the effort to curb the pandemic.

Officials of the World Health Organisation (WHO) say they are working with scientists across the globe on at least 20 different coronavirus vaccines. Some are already in clinical trials. The progress has been made in record time, just 60 days after scientists sequenced the gene.

Dr Maria van Kerkhove, technical lead for WHO’s emergencies programme, said at a press conference on Friday at the organisation’s headquarters in Geneva: “The acceleration of this process is really, truly dramatic, in terms of what we’re able to do, building on work that started with SARS, that [continued] with MERS and now is being used for COVID-19.”

Officials however say a vaccine is still a long way from being available for public use.

Human tests

China has already given the green light for researchers to begin human safety tests with an experimental vaccine. This is meant to develop an all-purpose shot against the outbreak of COVID-19, which began late last year and has been declared a pandemic by the WHO.

Scientists in the United States also say clinical trials have begun for a vaccine developed by the country’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) together with the US biotech firm Moderna. The vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, was first trialled on a 43-year-old woman, Jennifer Haller, an operations manager at a small tech company.

Apple reopens in China

Meanwhile, Apple has reopened all 42 of its branded retail outlets in China as of Saturday March 21. The shops had closed in early February as China restricted travel in an attempt to slow the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.

Apple said store closures in China, one of the company’s biggest markets, were a primary reason why it was forced to revise its quarterly guidance downward last month.

Two centenarians recover

Meanwhile, two 103-year-old women have recovered from the disease in Iran and China.  The first 103-year-old, Zhang Guangfen, is from Hubei Province in China, where the city of Wuhan is located and which suffered most badly in the first outbreaks of the disease.

She is reported to have recovered from the coronavirus after only six days of treatment at a hospital in Wuhan.

The second 103-year-old woman who beat the disease lives in Iran. Iranian state media reported on Saturday that despite overwhelming evidence that the elderly are most at risk from the disease, the unnamed woman, who was hospitalised in the central city of Semnan for about a week, had recovered.

She had been “discharged after making a complete recovery”, Navid Danayi, head of Semnan University of Medical Sciences, was quoted as saying.

China closes coronavirus hospitals

In what appears to be a marked sign that the coronavirus crisis may be vanishing from China, the last two of 16 temporary hospitals in Wuhan, the city at the centre of the initial devastating outbreak, have been shut down.

The final group of 49 patients walked out of the Wuchang temporary hospital in the Hubei provincial capital to cheers, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The 784-bed facility, a conversion on the site of the Wuchang Hongshan Stadium, opened on February 5 and received 1,124 patients in total, the news outlet said. Of those, 833 were discharged and 29 others transferred to other hospitals.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 24 March 2020 19:32


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