- World Health Organization held a media briefing on 3 June, to update the public on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
- Clinical trial of hydroxycholoroquine resumed.
- Intense spread continues in Central and South America.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said at a briefing Wednesday it would resume its trial of hydroxychloroquine, while expressing continued concern over the rise of COVID-19 coronavirus cases in the Americas.
What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.
The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.
As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.
Hydroxychloroquine study can resume
The hydroxychloroquine section of the WHO's Solidarity Trial can resume after being paused temporarily on 25 May. The trial’s Data Safety and Monitoring Committee had halted the study as a precaution in response to safety concerns raised by an observational study published in the Lancet.
The Data Safety Monitoring Board’s review has been completed, and today WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that given the current mortality data available, there was no reason to discontinue the hydroxychloroquine arm of the international trial.
The WHO said the review highlights the importance of randomized trials, especially in emergency situations such as COVID-19, to understand which drugs or strategies could reduce illness. “Observational studies have limitations,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist. “You can do analysis, but there are so many potential biases in the way that patients are managed in a clinical setting that the only way to get definite answers is to be when conducted randomized trials.”
Vigilance key, pandemic “far from over”
While cases have begun to decline in certain parts of Europe, the virus is “far from over.” In fact, as the Director-General explained in a statement, more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported to the WHO for each of the past five days.
One key danger, said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Technical Lead, is complacency. “people grow tired,” she explained. “It's very difficult to keep up all of these measures. In some situations, these public health and social measures may need to be reintroduced again. And that may frustrate people. And that, in a sense, could make the virus more dangerous because people become complacent.”
Continued worries over the Americas
Thanks to rapid spread, the Americas continue to account for the the lion’s share of new cases, said the Director-General. “The number of cases reported each day in the Americas has been more than the rest of the world put together.”
While numbers are rising in regions such as the Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia and Africa, the WHO said it is “especially worried” about Central and South America.
Brazil currently has more than 553,000 cases, the second-highest in the world. Cases in countries such as Peru are also growing quickly.