There might never be a silver bullet for Covid-19, says WHO chief

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There “might never be” a “silver bullet” treatment for the coronavirus pandemic, according to the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing on Monday: “A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection.”

He added: “However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.”

His remarks came following a meeting of the WHO-convened emergency committee of international experts on Friday.

The medical chief called it a “sobering moment”, noting that it came six months after the new coronavirus outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international concern.

Last month, early results from human trials of the coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed at the University of Oxford suggested it is safe and induces an immune response.

Meanwhile, some 30,000 volunteers are taking part in a large-scale trial of an experimental vaccine in the US which got under way last Monday.

Dr Tedros said the committee recommended that countries “participate in relevant clinical trials, and prepare for safe and effective therapeutics and vaccine introduction”.

He went on: “We learn every day about this virus and I’m pleased that the world has made progress in identifying treatments that can help people with the most serious forms of Covid-19 recover.

“Over the past week we’ve seen several countries that appeared as though they were past the worst now contending with fresh spikes in cases.

“However, we’ve also seen how some countries, regions or localities that had a high number of cases are now bringing the outbreak under control.

“However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.

“For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control.

“Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all.

“For individuals, it’s about keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others. Do it all.”

In folklore, a silver bullet is a weapon which can kill a werewolf or vampire and the term has evolved to mean a miraculous and simple fix to a long-standing and difficult problem.

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