UN health agency developing coronavirus treatment master plan

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(Geneva) – The World Health Organisation, WHO, is developing a master plan for coordinating clinical trials that could lead to potential therapies for patients infected with the COVID-19 virus, the agency’s chief, Tedros Ghebreyesus, announced.

Tedros was speaking at a press conference in Geneva, at the conclusion of a two-day research and innovation forum on COVID-19, during which leading health experts from around the world met to assess the current level of knowledge about the new disease, identify gaps and work together, so that critical research can begin immediately.

These include decisions surrounding easy to apply diagnostics, the best approaches for infection prevention, potential therapies that could be used to treat patients, existing vaccine candidates and how to accelerate them, and what Tedros described as the “infodemic” – the overwhelming quantity of information, being produced and disseminated worldwide.

The WHO is extending investigations into the source of the virus (which is still undetermined), added the UN health agency chief, and continuing to support countries with the tools to diagnose cases and protect health workers, including personal protective equipment.

As of Wednesday morning, Geneva time, there were 44,730 cases of COVID-19 in China, with 1,114 deaths. In the rest of the world, the figure was 441 cases, and one death. Although the number of newly confirmed cases has stabilised in China, Tedros cautioned that the outbreak “could still go in any direction”.