As coronavirus hits parts of the globe, scientists are intensifying their efforts at developing vaccines to contain the disease.
The World Health Organisation on Friday said more than 20 vaccines are at the development stage globally, and several therapeutics are in clinical trials.
The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak which originated from China has spread to all the continents except Antarctica.
The disease is a novel virus, and as such there is no known treatment or vaccine to combat it.
This has led to the spread of the disease to over 49 countries with over 2000 deaths.
China, which is the epicentre for the disease, has been trying various treatments and documenting the processprocesses.
The WHO chief, Tedros Ghebreyesus said that as of Friday, China has reported 78,959 cases to WHO, including 2791 deaths.
“Outside China, there are now 4351 cases in 49 countries and 67 deaths.
“Since Thursday, Denmark, Estonia , Lithuania, Netherlands and Nigeria have all reported their first COVID19 cases. All these cases have links to Italy.
Mr Ghebreyesus said so far, 24 cases have been exported from Italy to 14 countries, and 97 cases have been exported from Iran to 11 countries.
He also said while 20 potential vaccines are being developed. “At the same time, work is also progressing on vaccines and therapeutics.”
Mr Ghebreyesus said the continued increase in the number of COVID19 cases, and the number of affected countries over the last few days, are clearly of concern.
Since the disease broke out, the UN health agency has been working closely with China to understudy the disease process and what medication seems to be working or not.
A joint WHO-China Joint Mission has also made some recommendations on their findings so far on the outbreak.
The WHO chief said the WHO-China Joint Mission has published its report “and it is available in English on the WHO website and will also be posted in China on the National Health Commission website”.
“The report includes a wealth of information, and 22 recommendations for China, for affected and unaffected countries, for the international community, and the general public.
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“It calls for all countries to educate their populations, to expand surveillance, to find, isolate and care for every COVID19 case, to trace every contact, and to take an all-of-government and all-of-society approach – this is not a job for the health ministry alone,” he said.
Mr Ghebreyesus said while research is ongoing, governments and the people need to take responsibility for the safety of everyone.
“We don’t need to wait for vaccines and therapeutics. There are things every individual can do to protect themselves and others today.
The key to containing this coronavirus is to break the chains of transmission, he said.
He said epidemiologists from the WHO have been “monitoring these developments continuously, and we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID19 to very high at a global level”.
“What we see at the moment are linked epidemics of COVID19 in several countries, but most cases can still be traced to known contacts or clusters of cases. We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities”
“As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing this coronavirus, if robust action is taken to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients and trace contacts.
“As I said Thursday, there are different scenarios in different countries, and different scenarios within the same country.
“Your risk depends on where you live, your age and general health. WHO can provide general guidance. You should also follow your national guidance and consult your local health professionals,” he explained.