Tuesday, 20 Oct 2020

WHO official warns against becoming ‘too confident’ over coronavirus vaccine

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Dr Hans Kluge said that current measures such as hand washing and physical distancing cannot be ignored, and explained why a vaccine would not mean the immediate end of Covid-19.

The health chief said in an interview with Mail Online: “Everyone thinks that a vaccine is a panacea. First of all, we don’t know if a vaccine will work in all age groups.

“I mean, 100 years ago we had the Spanish flu and what was the best strategy? The same as now, hand washing and distancing.”

Regarding the UK specifically, Dr Kluge voiced concern about mass gatherings at beaches and other public places, and warned against becoming “too confident” this summer.

It comes as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned only yesterday that the pandemic is “not even close to being over” and that this is “the hard reality”.

He said: “With 10 million cases now and half a million deaths, unless we address the problems we’ve already identified at WHO, the lack of national unity and lack of global solidarity and the divided world which is actually helping the virus to spread, the worst is yet to come.”

Indeed, while Britons have managed to bring down new cases and deaths from the UK peak in April, elsewhere the spread of the virus is increasing.

The US for example saw a record high of daily cases last week, while some states have warned they are at or approaching hospital care capacity.

As a result, at least 16 states have paused their pandemic reopening plans or are actively reintroducing restrictions, according to CNN.

For example, bars in Texas and parts of California have been instructed to close back down while beaches across Florida have been ordered to shut ahead of the weekend’s July 4 celebrations.

READ: Leicestershire Zoo’s desperate plea for post-coronavirus funding to save animals

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in a news conference pointed to the “national situation compounded by instances of knucklehead behaviour here at home”.

The surge in US cases comes a couple of months after the Trump administration published its ‘Opening Up America Again’ economic recovery plan.

Meanwhile Brazil, which in recent weeks has become the second worst-hit country in the world in terms of Covid-19 cases and deaths, protests are targeting the country’s president Jair Bolsonaro.

Al Jazeera reports that last week was the Latin American country’s worst in terms of new cases.

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And closer to home, Leicester in the north of England has seen lockdown rules reimposed in order to tackle a surge in cases there in recent days.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said that Leicester accounted for about 10 percent of the country’s positive cases in the past week.

And he added that the number of positive cases there was “three time higher than the next highest city”.

As a result, non-essential shops will be required to shut in Leicester from today, and the reopening of pubs and restaurants will not go ahead on July 4.

Those in the rest of England, however, will still be able to as planned.

It’s understood that the new measures in Leicester will last for at least two weeks.

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