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WHO Statement On Several COVID-19 Questions, March 30 Press Conference Notes

Posted: March 30, 2020 at 1:22 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

A World Health Organization statement in response to several predictions that between 70-150 million in the United States would contract COVID-19 (Coronavirus) reads, “We cannot make predictions, but we can say that the course of the pandemic will be determined by the actions that countries take. However, WHO is working with an international network of statisticians and mathematical modelers to forecast estimate key epidemiologic parameters of COVID-19. For more on current modeling analyses, see WHO situation report of 19 February.”

“We are working with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tencent, LinkedIn, Snapchat and TikTok to help us reach as many people as possible with accurate and timely information on COVID-19, as well as to detect [the] spread of misinformation,” reads the statement, addressing how WHO is working with various social media platforms to help share accurate information regarding the virus and combat misinformation and propaganda found on each platform.

Earlier today WHO held a virtual press conference regarding the pandemic. The following is a portion of the opening address from WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

…For example, we’re pleased by the 20,000 health workers in the U.K. who have offered to return to work, and that other countries such as the Russian Federation are involving medical students and trainees in the response. 

To help countries manage the surge in COVID-19 cases while maintaining essential services, WHO has also published a detailed, practical manual on how to set up and manage treatment centres [sic] for COVID-19.

The manual covers three major interventions:

First, how to set up screening and triage at health facilities, using a repurposed building or a tent.

Second, how to set up community facilities to care for mild patients; 

And third, how to set up a treatment centre, by repurposing hospital wards or entire hospitals, or by setting up a new hospital in a tent.

The manual covers structural design, infection prevention and control measures, and ventilation systems.

This is a life-saving instruction manual to deal with the surge of cases that some countries are facing right now.

These facilities will also have longer-term benefits for health systems once the current crisis is over.

In addition to having facilities for patients, it’s also vital that countries have sufficient supplies of diagnostics, protective equipment and other medical supplies.

Ensuring free movement of essential health products is vital for saving lives and curbing the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

The issue of chloroquine, a drug used to combat malaria, now being purposed in the United States to treat COVID-19 was a topic of discussion during the press conference, despite WHO saying there isn’t sufficient evidence to suggest the drug is effective without randomized testing and larger sample sizes to prove its effectiveness — the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the unproven treatment to be used to treat coronavirus patients going forward. Without the necessary data, the potential risks could be fatal in what could be an ineffective therapy. 

Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme and Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Technical Lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme both cautioned against using unproven methods during the press conference without scientific data to prove the treatment is both effective and safe.

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