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Iran Press TV

WHO chief warns of rapid spread of COVID-19

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 12 August 2021 10:23 AM

The number of COVID-19 cases in the world may exceed 300 million at the beginning of next year if the current rate of the spread of the infection is not stopped, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says.

"Last week, the 200 millionth case of COVID-19 was reported to WHO, just six months after the world passed 100 million reported cases. And we know that the real number of cases is much higher. As I said recently, whether we reach 300 million, and how fast we get there, depends on all of us. At the current trajectory, we could pass 300 million reported cases early next year. But we can change that," Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

At a news briefing from the WHO headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday, Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the organization, in its ongoing effort to find new treatments for COVID-19, would test three new drugs as potential treatments for people in hospital with severe COVID-19 as it expands its global trial to 600 hospitals in 52 countries.

The three treatments include Artesunate, a treatment for severe malaria; Imatinib, a drug for certain cancers; and Infliximab, a treatment for immune system disorders such as Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The drugs were chosen by an independent panel of experts that evaluates all the available evidence on all potential therapeutics.

The WHO completed the first phase of the so-called Solidarity trials last year, in which four drugs, namely remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, and interferon, had little or no effect on 13,000 patients in 500 hospitals in 30 countries, according to the initial results. The final results from those trials are expected next month.

Countries taking part in the new trials include Canada, Finland, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

The research for new treatments comes as the spread of COVID-19 variants such as the delta has changed assumptions about herd immunity and vaccination targets. Countries that have not been able to vaccinate a significant proportion of their population have been particularly hard hit.

"What's been happening with coronavirus… is that variants are emerging and are more transmissible, which means that a higher fraction of people need to be vaccinated in order to likely achieve some level of herd immunity," Katherine O'Brien, the director of the WHO's immunization department, said.

According to the WHO, as of August 12, 205 million COVID-19 cases have been registered in the world since the beginning of the pandemic, and 4.32 million people have died. Only 15.8% of the world population is fully vaccinated.

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