Nearly five months to the day since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, Covid-19 infections have passed 20 million cases. 

In acknowledging the milestone, the health body’s chief warned against despair, saying if the virus could be suppressed effectively, “we can safely open up societies”.

Global cases reached one million at the start of April. By 22 May, there were 5 million cases. That figure had doubled to 10 million cases by the end of June, and, seven weeks later, it had doubled again to 20 million infections.

The WHO’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said he thinks despite the “great deal of pain and suffering” and the growing numbers, “there are green shoots of hope and … it’s never too late to turn the outbreak around.”

Tedros gave examples of countries that had successfully clamped down on the spread of Covid-19, citing New Zealand and Rwanda, and praised nations that had suffered major national outbreaks and were now responding quickly to local spikes.

“My message is crystal clear: suppress, suppress, suppress the virus,” he said. “If we suppress the virus effectively, we can safely open up societies.”

With much of the world caught in a cycle of outbreaks and economically crushing lockdowns, all eyes have been on the race for a vaccine. 

A WHO overview said 165 candidate vaccines were being worked on around the world, with six reaching Phase 3 – or large-scale human trials – of clinical evaluation.

But the WHO’s emergencies director, Michael Ryan, warned that a vaccine was “only part of the answer”, pointing to polio and measles as diseases with vaccines that have not been fully eradicated. 

“You’ve got to be able to deliver that vaccine to a population that want and demand to have that vaccine,” he said.

(The Guardian) 

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