Friday, July 24, 2020

Vaccine Studies Offer New Hope as WHO Warns on Africa Outbreak
2020/7/21 17:03:40

A health worker disinfects the exterior of a house in Casablanca, Morocco, on June 7, 2020. Morocco on Sunday announced 73 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number in the North African country to 8,224. (Photo by Chadi/Xinhua)

Two studies offered new hope of a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus on Monday, as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned about a possible acceleration of the disease in Africa.

COVID-19 has killed more than 600,000 people worldwide and battered economies so far, and there is growing alarm over fresh outbreaks of the disease.

Until recently, Africa had remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic compared to other parts of the world.

But the situation has become increasingly worrying, particularly in South Africa, where the death toll passed the 5,000 mark and the number of infections reached 350,000 on the weekend.

The WHO's emergencies chief Michael Ryan told a virtual news conference in Geneva that the situation in South Africa could be seen as "a warning" for what the rest of the continent might have in store.

"I am very concerned right now that we are beginning to see an acceleration of disease in Africa," he said.

Meanwhile, two studies published in The Lancet medical journal appeared to show progress toward a vaccine.

One trial among more than 1,000 adults in Britain found that a vaccine induced "strong antibody and T cell immune responses" against coronavirus.

A separate trial in China involving more than 500 people showed most had developed widespread antibody immune response.

"If our vaccine is effective it is a promising option as these types of vaccine can be manufactured at large scale," said coauthor Sarah Gilbert from the University of Oxford.

British biotech firm Synairgen also said on Monday a randomized trial of an aerosol-based treatment shows it could drastically reduce the number of new coronavirus patients dying of the disease or requiring intensive care.

Many countries in Europe had largely brought their outbreaks under control and were considering further easing of restrictions before fresh clusters were detected.

Governments are struggling to balance public health concerns against the need to open up economies crippled by months of virus lockdowns.


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