The World Health Organization is calling for more investment in the development of new vaccines to keep pace with rapidly evolving variants of the coronavirus.
As global attention turns to the monkeypox outbreak, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. He says that new tools must be developed to curb this deadly disease, while public health interventions that are known to work must be maintained and strengthened.
He says one of the most effective ways to save lives is to vaccinate the right groups first. By this he means healthcare workers, older people and other high-risk groups such as those with underlying health conditions.
He notes that COVID-19 cases and deaths have been increasing over the past five weeks. The latest WHO report puts the number of confirmed global cases at nearly 566 million, including more than 6.3 million deaths.
Tedros says several countries are also reporting rising hospitalizations, following outbreaks driven by omicron subtypes. “While vaccines have saved countless lives, they have not significantly reduced transmission. So it is important for governments and the private sector to continue to collaborate and invest in the development of new vaccines that prevent both infection and disease.
Tedros adds that vaccines should be developed that can be administered more easily, such as by nasal spray or drops.
WHO’s Director of Health Emergencies, Mike Ryan, says more attention will be paid to pandemic preparedness. He says risks from diseases like COVID-19, monkeypox, Marburg and polio are growing because nations tend to be reactive, rather than proactive in dealing with these diseases.
“I think we really need to look much more carefully at how we prioritize pathogens for the future and then how we invest… It’s going to cost money and it costs money.” But it’s a great investment in protecting us down the line. And a dollar spent on preparedness is worth a thousand dollars in response.”
WHO chief Tedros agrees. He urges all countries to assess and strengthen their preparedness and response plans for future outbreaks.
He adds that as new vaccines and other COVID-19 tools are developed, it is important that they are equally available in all countries.
New vaccines must be developed to keep up with COVID variants
Source link New vaccines must be developed to keep up with COVID variants