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There may never be COVID-19 'silver bullet': WHO

August 3, 2020

The World Health Organization has warned that, despite a rush to develop an effective vaccine against the coronavirus, there may never be a "silver bullet." The WHO chief has urged all nations to enforce health measures.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus dons a mask
Image: picture-alliance/KEYSTONE/M. Trezzini

The WHO on Monday said the road to normality would be long and there may never be a "silver bullet."

"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," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "However, there's no silver bullet at the moment — and there might never be."

Read more: Coronavirus digest: intensive care cases in Belgium double in a month

'Do it all'

The WHO director-general was addressing a virtual conference with the organization's emergencies head, Mike Ryan.

They asked all governments and citizens to focus on health measures, such as wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, washing hands and testing.

"The message to people and governments is clear: 'Do it all'," Tedros said, adding that facemasks should become a symbol of solidarity around the world.

Read more: 45 officers injured at Berlin rally against coronavirus curbs

Breastfeeding benefits outweigh risks

The WHO chief also offered some reassurance to mothers, saying they should breastfeed their babies, even if they have contracted the coronavirus.

"WHO recommends that mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged the same as all other mothers to initiate or continue breastfeeding," Tedros told the news conference from the UN body's Geneva headquarters.

"The many benefits of breastfeeding for newborn babies and children substantially outweigh the potential risks of COVID-19 infections," Tedros said as the world marked breastfeeding awareness week.  


Meanwhile, a WHO team of international experts sent to China to examine the origin of the coronavirus has finished its initial operation.

"The WHO advance team that traveled to China has now concluded their mission to lay the groundwork for further joint efforts to identify the virus origins," Tedros said.

"WHO and Chinese experts have drafted the terms of reference for the studies and program of work for an international team, led by WHO," he added. 

The two-member team has not yet returned to Geneva for a debriefing.

Chinese officials had indicated during the initial outbreak that the virus may have spread from a market in the city of Wuhan, which sold live and wild animals, but no further information was provided.

kw/stb (AFP, Reuters)