WHO says coronavirus vaccine and treatment research has ‘accelerated at incredible speed’

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World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gestures during a press briefing on evolution of new coronavirus epidemic on January 29, 2020 in Geneva.

Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

Research to develop vaccines and treatments to fight the coronavirus has “accelerated at incredible speed,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday.

“The viral genome was mapped in early January and shared globally which enabled tests to be developed and vaccine research to start,” he said at a press conference from the organization’s Geneva headquarters. He said more than 70 countries have joined WHO’s trial to accelerate research on effective treatments and “about 20 institutions and companies are racing to develop a vaccine.”

Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s executive director for emergencies program, said one trial underway will look at prophylaxis in health care workers to see if there’s evidence of giving lower doses of drugs like hydroxychloroquine would reduce their risk of becoming infected in a health care environment.

New York state last month began the first large-scale clinical trial looking at hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for the coronavirus after the Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked the approval process.

President Donald Trump has said chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could be a “game-changer,” even though the drugs have not been put through rigorous clinical trials to fight CV-19, which has infected more than 1 million people worldwide in a little over three months. Trump last month directed the FDA to examine whether the drugs can be used to prevent or treat the coronavirus.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates. 

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