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WHO won't recommend coronavirus vaccine unless proven safe

September 5, 2020

The World Health Organization has insisted it will not endorse a vaccine before it's shown to be safe and effective, as nations race to develop the means to end the global pandemic. Catch up on the latest on COVID-19.

A nurse prepares a shot as a study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine
Image: H. Pennink/AP Photo/picture-alliance

Vaccine developments

The World Health Organization has said it will not recommend any coronavirus vaccine unless it has been proven to be effective and safe, even as Russia and China have started using their experimental vaccines before large-scale trials were conducted.

The UN health agency also welcomed the fact that a "considerable number" of vaccine candidates have reached the final stage trials. "In terms of realistic timelines, we are really not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year," said WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris.


India has become the world's third country to surpass 4 million coronavirus cases, behind only the United States and Brazil with over 6.3 million and 4.1 million cases respectively.

Read more: Coronavirus: India's economy braces for lackluster recovery

On Saturday, the South Asian country registered a record daily increase in cases with 86,432 confirmed infections. From 3 to 4 million cases in just 13 days, the surge in coronavirus cases in India is now faster than the US and Brazil. As of Saturday, 69,561 people have died of COVID-19 in the country.

India imposed a weekslong nationwide lockdown in March, but the government has since eased restrictions in a bid to revive the economy.


Germany:  Health Minister Jens Spahn alongside Berlin’s State Minister for Health Dilek Kalayci, announced a plan on Saturday to create 5,000 new full-time positions in the public health sector by 2022, including 1,500 doctors, specialist staff and administrative staff by December 31, 2021. 

The recruitment drive is part of an investment package of €4 billion ($4.74 billion) which also seeks to modernize the health care system and make jobs more attractive.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier suggested on Saturday holding a memorial for those who have died from the novel coronavirus. Germany has seen 9,324 virus-related deaths since the pandemic hit the country earlier in the year.

Greece:  Authorities say coronavirus checks will be carried out on all care homes for the elderly throughout the country within the next 10 days.

Italy: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte denounced a protest organized by coronavirus deniers and anti-vaxxers, planned for Saturday evening in Rome. 

"We are dealing with an ongoing pandemic," he said, according to ANSA news agency. "There is a demonstration in Rome today by people who believe it doesn't exist. We will answer them with data," he added.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is currently in a stable condition after testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, his doctor has announced. Berlusconi was taken into hospital two days ago, where an X-ray revealed he had mild pneumonia in both lungs.

Middle East

Schools in Iran reopened on Saturday for the country’s 15 million students. Classes will consist of a mixture of in-person and online classes. 

"This year, we shoulder a heavier burden of responsibility toward our students," said President Hassan Rouhani in a video conference broadcast over national television.

Gaza recorded its highest number of new cases on Saturday after avoiding an outbreak during the first six months of the pandemic. The 177 newly registered cases brought the total to 713. One COVID-related death was also recorded. 

Hamas, the Islamist militant group which controls the Palestinian enclave, has imposed strict restrictions on its 2 million inhabitants until further notice.

Thousands of Israelis protested outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence on Saturday night as the country copes with record levels of COVID-19 infections. Demonstrators have been protesting Netanyahu's handling of the coronavirus crisis, which has resulted in soaring unemployment. Israelis are calling for Netanyahu to resign while on corruption charges.


United States: President Donald Trump has urged citizens to "remain vigilant" over the Labor Day weekend amid concerns of a spike in cases during the holiday. He added that "we need everyone to be careful" and to "apply common sense" in the interactions with others.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has said the Midwestern states should particularly be vigilant during the holiday weekend as they have witnessed recent jumps in cases.

Previous holidays, including the Memorial Day and the US Independence Day, were followed by an increase in coronavirus cases.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Friday that he will be tested regularly for coronavirus during his election campaign against Trump.

Read moreUS won’t join WHO-led effort for coronavirus vaccine

Mexico: Several states have run out of death certificates, a grim reflection of the number of deaths related to the coronavirus.

The federal forms started running out about 15-20 days ago in three states; Baja California, the State of Mexico, and Mexico City, officials said. One million new forms have been printed and are being distributed, authorities said. 

With 66,851 deaths, Mexico has the fourth-highest level of COVID-19 fatalities in the world.

Brazil has 30,168 new cases and 682 deaths caused by COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Health reported. The South American country now has a total of 4,123,000 coronavirus cases with 126,203 deaths.

Brazil's indigenous and environmental organizations have launched a contact tracing app to help indigenous communities curb the spread of the coronavirus in their lands.

The app, dubbed COVID-10 Indigenous Alert, aims to help people identify the areas with high infection rates using data from the country's Health Ministry and several sources representing the indigenous population.

"The application maps and periodically updates the situation regarding the pandemic in cities within a 100-kilometer radius of Indigenous lands," the Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) and the Amazon Environmental Research Institute said in a statement.


Police in Australia made several arrests as part of a crackdown against anti-coronavirus lockdown protests in Melbourne on Saturday. Around 300 people took part in the protest in the city which is, along with the rest of the state of Victoria, currently under tight restrictions.

Victoria’s death toll reached 661 on Saturday, out of a total of 748 nationwide.

ab/mm (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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