A top World Health Organization official had good news and bad news Wednesday — warning that there was a “definite threat” of another coronavirus outbreak but adding that the world would be better prepared this time around.
“We still have neither a vaccine nor a cure for Covid-19,” Hans Kluge, the WHO’s European director, said during a news conference conducted in Russian to reach people in countries where many speak the language, from Russia to Armenia and Israel, Russia Today reported.
“The second wave is not inevitable. But an increasing number of nations are lifting restrictions, and there is a definite threat of a repeat outbreak of the Covid-19 infection. If those outbreaks are not isolated, a second wave may come and it may be very destructive,” Kluge said.
The good news, he added, was that the world was now in a better position to deal with coronavirus after the first outbreak.
“We better understand the virus, which measures work, how we must prepare,” Kluge said.
The initial pandemic, which broke out in China in late 2019, has to date killed more than 380,000 across the world, including more than 105,000 in the US.
Experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, initially predicted it could take up to 18 months to develop an effective vaccine.
But Swiss drugmaker Novartis will start producing a genetic coronavirus vaccine this month under a deal with Massachusetts researchers.
AveXis, Novartis’ gene-therapy arm, agreed to manufacture the vaccine being developed by Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Production will start in time for clinical trials that are scheduled to begin in the second half of this year, according to a Thursday announcement.
And President Trump has asserted that a vaccine would be developed and ready for use by the end of 2020 under an ambitious effort he dubbed “Operation Warp Speed.”
“We’re getting ready so that when we get the good word that we have the vaccine, we have the formula, we have what we need, we’re ready to go, as opposed to taking years to gear up,” he said when announcing the effort last month.
“We’re gearing up. It’s risky. It’s expensive, but we’ll be saving massive amounts of time, we’ll be saving years if we do this properly,” the president added.
Trump has also bashed the WHO for its handling of the outbreak, particularly its purported kowtowing to China, and said the US was suspending relations with the organization.
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