CORONA VIRUS

May. 29, 2020

International community rallies to support open research and science to fight COVID-19
WHO and Costa Rica launch landmark COVID-19 Technology Access Pool

Geneva, 29 May 2020 -- Thirty countries and multiple international partners and institutions have signed up to support the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) an initiative aimed at making vaccines, tests, treatments and other health technologies to fight COVID-19 accessible to all.

The Pool was first proposed in March by President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica, who joined WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today at the official launch of the initiative.

“The COVID-19 Technology Access Pool will ensure the latest and best science benefits all of humanity,” said President Alvarado of Costa Rica. “Vaccines, tests, diagnostics, treatments and other key tools in the coronavirus response must be made universally available as global public goods”.

“Global solidarity and collaboration are essential to overcoming COVID-19,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Based on strong science and open collaboration, this information-sharing platform will help provide equitable access to life-saving technologies around the world.”

The COVID-19 (Technology) Access Pool will be voluntary and based on social solidarity. It will provide a one-stop shop for scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property to be shared equitably by the global community.

The aim is to accelerate the discovery of vaccines, medicines and other technologies through open-science research, and to fast-track product development by mobilizing additional manufacturing capacity. This will help ensure faster and more equitable access to existing and new COVID-19 health products.

There are five key elements to the initiative:

· Public disclosure of gene sequences and data;
· Transparency around the publication of all clinical trial results;
· Governments and other funders are encouraged to include clauses in funding agreements with pharmaceutical companies and other innovators about equitable distribution, affordability and the publication of trial data;
· Licensing any potential treatment, diagnostic, vaccine or other health technology to the Medicines Patent Pool - a United Nations-backed public health body that works to increase access to, and facilitate the development of, life-saving medicines for low- and middle-income countries.
· Promotion of open innovation models and technology transfer that increase local manufacturing and supply capacity, including through joining the Open Covid Pledge and the Technology Access Partnership (TAP).

With supportive countries across the globe, C-TAP will serve as a sister initiative to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and other initiatives to support efforts to fight COVID-19 worldwide.

WHO, Costa Rica and all the co-sponsor countries have also issued a “Solidarity Call to Action” asking relevant stakeholders to join and support the initiative, with recommended actions for key groups, such as governments, research and development funders, researchers, industry and civil society.

WHO and Costa Rica co-hosted today’s launch event, which began with a high-level session addressed by the WHO Director-General and President Alvarado in addition to Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados and Aksel Jacobsen, State Secretary, Norway. There were video statements by President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador; President Thomas Esang Remengesau Jr., of Palau; President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador; , Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commis-sioner for Human Rights; Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; and Retno Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Indonesia. Leaders from across the UN, academia, industry and civil society joined for a moderated discussion.

To date, the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool is now supported by the following countries: Argentina, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Mozambique, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Sudan, The Netherlands, Timor-Leste, Uruguay

Other international organizations, partners and experts have also expressed support to the initiative and others can join them using the website: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/global-research-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/covid-19-technology-accesss-pool/solidarity-call-to-action/

Note :-------------
The Solidarity Call to Action follows from numerous international commitments, including: Global Sustainable Development Goal 3, target 3b; The WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPA- PHI) and the WHO Roadmap for access to medicines, vaccines and health products 2019-2023; the UN General Assembly Resolution on “International cooperation to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to face COVID-19” (A/RES/74/274); and the 73rd World Health Assembly Resolution on the “COVID-19 response” (WHA73.1).

May. 28, 2020

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 27 May 2020
27 May 2020
Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

Yesterday, 40 million health professionals sent a letter to the leaders of each of the G20 nations, calling for a healthy and green recovery from COVID-19. I fully support this.

The human cost of COVID-19 has been devastating, and the so-called lockdown measures have turned lives upside down.

But the pandemic has given us a glimpse of what our world could look like if we took the bold steps that are needed to curb climate change and air pollution.

Our air and water can be clearer, our streets can be quieter and safer, and many of us have found new ways to work while spending more time with our families.

Yesterday, WHO published our manifesto for a green and healthy recovery from COVID-19, with six simple prescriptions:

First, protect nature, which is the source of the air, water and food on which human health depends.

Second, ensure that homes and health facilities have water and sanitation, access to clean and reliable energy, and are resilient to climate change.

Third, invest in a quick transition to clean energy that will cut air pollution, so that when COVID-19 has been defeated people can breathe clean air.

Fourth, promote healthy and sustainable food systems, to give people access to healthy and affordable food.

Fifth, build cities that integrate health into all aspects of urban planning, from sustainable transport systems to healthy housing.

And sixth, stop subsidizing fossil fuels that cause pollution and drive climate change.

As some countries start to re-open their societies and economies, the question we must answer is whether we will just return to the way things were, or whether we will learn the lessons the pandemic is teaching us about our relationship with our planet.

Building back better means building back greener.

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When I started as Director-General almost three years ago, one of the first things I did was to put out a call to all staff to contribute ideas for how to transform WHO and make it more effective.

And I was asking many of my colleagues to generate crazy ideas to improve our organization.

One of the ways I did that was by instituting “Open Hour”, where any staff member can come to talk to me about any issue they want, every Thursday.

These ideas became the basis of the transformation process we have been implementing over the past few years, and I would like to thank all staff who contributed their ideas that are now changing the face of WHO.

At one of the first meetings, a staff member proposed the creation of a WHO Foundation.

The idea was to establish a way to generate funding for WHO from sources we haven’t tapped before, including the general public.

Until now, WHO has been one of the few international organizations, which has not received donations from the general public.

I immediately recognized the enormous potential in this idea thanks to the staff, which suggested this idea.

It is well documented that one of the greatest threats to WHO’s success is the fact that less than 20% of our budget comes in the form of flexible assessed contributions from Member States, while more than 80% is voluntary contributions, from Member States and other donors, which are usually tightly earmarked for specific programmes.

In effect, that means WHO has little discretion over the way it spends its funds, almost 80% of its funds.

We have been working hard to encourage Member States to increase the proportion of flexible funds they give us, and we are very grateful for those countries that have given us greater flexibility in recent years and there is improvement.

But for WHO to fulfil its mission and mandate, there is a clear need to broaden our donor base, and to improve both the quantity and quality of funding we receive – meaning more flexible funding.

Since February 2018 we have been hard at work supporting the establishment of the WHO Foundation after hard work of two years it gives us enormous pleasure to launch it officially and to launch the WHO Foundation.

This is a historic step for WHO, as an integral part of our resource mobilization strategy to broaden the contributor base.

The WHO Foundation was not ready to launch when the COVID-19 pandemic began, so with the support of the United Nations Foundation, the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation and several other partners, we launched the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

In just two-and-a-half months, this fund has raised more than 214 million U.S. dollars from more than 400,000 individuals and companies, including 55 million dollars from the “One World: Together at Home” virtual concert.

These funds have been used to buy lab diagnostics, personal protective equipment, and to fund research and development, including for vaccines.

The Solidarity Response Fund is powerful proof of concept for the WHO Foundation.

To further promote the Solidarity Response Fund, WHO has partnered with the animation studio Illumination to launch a public service announcement today aimed at children featuring the beloved animated characters the Minions and Gru, voiced by the actor Steve Carrell, to promote ways for people to stay safe from COVID-19.

The Solidarity Response Fund will continue to receive donations to support WHO’s work on COVID-19, while the WHO Foundation will help to fund all elements of WHO’s work and be fully aligned with our priorities.

It now gives me great pleasure to introduce Professor Thomas Zeltner, who is the founder and chair of the board of the WHO Foundation.

Professor Zeltner is a Swiss physician and lawyer, with a long and distinguished career in public health, including as the Director-General of the National Health Authority and as Swiss Secretary of State for Health.

Professor Zeltner, thank you for your support and collaboration over the past 18 months.

The floor is yours to speak about the new WHO Foundation, which is being born today

May. 24, 2020

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports

More information on COVID-19 can be found here:https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Best regards,

WHO Media Team

May. 24, 2020

Brazzaville/Cairo, 22 May 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic today reached a milestone in Africa, with more than 100 000 confirmed cases. The virus has now spread to every country in the continent since the first case was confirmed in the region 14 weeks ago.

Despite crossing this threshold, the pandemic, which has struck with such devastating force in much of the world, appears to be taking a different pathway in Africa. Case numbers have not grown at the same exponential rate as in other regions and so far Africa has not experienced the high mortality seen in some parts of the world. Today, there are 3100 confirmed deaths on the continent.

By comparison, when cases reached 100 000 in the World Health Organization (WHO) European region, deaths stood at more than 4900. Early analysis by WHO suggests that Africa’s lower mortality rate may be the result of demography and other possible factors. Africa is the youngest continent demographically with more than 60% of the population under the age of 25. Older adults have a significantly increased risk of developing a severe illness. In Europe nearly 95% of deaths occurred in those older than 60 years.

African governments have made difficult decisions and were quick to impose confinement measures, including physical and social distancing, which will have significant socio-economic costs. These measures, which along with contact tracing and isolation, expanded or increased hand washing have helped to slow down the spread of the virus.

“For now COVID-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “It is possible our youth dividend is paying off and leading to fewer deaths. But we must not be lulled into complacency as our health systems are fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases.”

The continent has made significant progress in testing with around 1.5 million COVID-19 tests conducted so far. However, testing rates remain low and many countries continue to require support to scale-up testing. There is a need to expand the testing capacity in urban, semi-urban and rural areas, and provide additional test kits.

Cases continue to rise in Africa and while overall it took 52 days to reach the first 10,000 cases, it took only 11 days to move from 30 000 to 50 000 cases. About half of the countries in Africa are experiencing community transmission. More than 3400 health care workers have been infected by COVID-19. It is important that health authorities prioritize the protection of healthcare workers from COVID-19 infection at medical facilities and communities. There is also a need to provide enough personal protective equipment to health care workers and raise their awareness as well as increase infection prevention and control in health facilities.

“Testing as many people as possible and protecting health workers who come into contact with suspected and confirmed cases are crucial aspects of this response. Despite global shortages, we are working hard to prioritize the delivery of testing kits and personal protective equipment to low- and middle-income countries that have the most vulnerable populations, based on the number of cases reported,” said Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Despite the relatively lower number of COVID-19 cases in Africa, the pandemic remains a major threat to the continent’s health systems. A new modelling study by WHO predicts that if containment measures fail, even with a lower number of cases requiring hospitalization than elsewhere, the medical capacity in much of Africa would be overwhelmed.

Now that countries are starting to ease their confinement measures, there is a possibility that cases could increase significantly, and it is critical that governments remain vigilant and ready to adjust measures in line with epidemiological data and proper risk assessment.

WHO has offices in every country on the continent and is working closely with the Africa Centres for Disease Control, Ministries of Health, United Nations agencies and other partners to support the scale-up of the response through coordination, technical expertise, the provision of much needed medical supplies and assisting with data collection and analysis. WHO has trained more than 7000 health workers, including 1000 district health teams to support the decentralization of the response. So far, more than 225 experts have been deployed to over 39 countries in Africa and over 900 staff have been repurposed at the regional and country level to support the response.

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Note to Editors:

Within the WHO system, Africa is divided between two regional offices. The WHO Regional Office for Africa comprises 47 countries which include Algeria and most of sub-Saharan Africa. While the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean includes an additional seven African countries (Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia).

May. 24, 2020