China’s Sinovac Covid vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use.
Sinovac is the second Chinese vaccine to receive the green light from the WHO, after Sinopharm.
The WHO approval opens the door for the vaccine to be used in the Covax program, which aims to ensure fair access to vaccines.
Sinovac, which has already been used in several countries, has been recommended for over 18s, with a second dose two to four weeks later.
The emergency approval means the Chinese vaccine “meets international standards for safety, efficacy and manufacturing”, the WHO said.
Studies showed that Sinovac prevented symptomatic disease in more than half of those vaccinated and prevented severe symptoms and hospitalization in 100% of those studied, it added.
It is hoped that the decision to list the Chinese vaccine for emergency use will give a boost to the Covax initiative, which has been struggling with supply problems.
“The world desperately needs multiple Covid-19 vaccines to address the huge access inequity across the globe,” said Mariangela Simao, the WHO’s assistant director general for access to health products.
“We urge manufacturers to participate in the Covax facility, share their know-how and data and contribute to bringing the pandemic under control,” she said.
As well as China, Sinovac is already being administered in countries including Chile, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey.
Sinovac says it has supplied more than 600 million doses at home and abroad as of the end of May. It says more than 430 million doses have been administered.
One of Sinovac’s main advantages is that it can be stored in a standard refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius. This means Sinovac is a lot more useful to developing countries which might not be able to store large amounts of vaccine at low temperatures.
The emergency approval came as the heads of the WHO, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank appealed for a $50 billion investment fund to help end the pandemic.
In a joint statement they said the world had reached a perilous point, and that inequalities in access to vaccines risked prolonging the pandemic, and many more deaths.
They have called for the money to be invested in areas including vaccine production, oxygen supplies, and Covid-19 treatments, ensuring they are distributed fairly.
They also called on wealthy countries to donate vaccine doses immediately to developing nations.
Meanwhile, Spain has confirmed a 15-day lockdown as part of emergency
There will also be a reduction in
medium-distance rail traffic to stem the spread of people around the country,
and economic measures to support businesses and workers.
After a lengthy meeting of the
country’s government cabinet, Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez said a partial lockdown
would be in place across the country, with the armed forces on standby to
assist with relief efforts.
All stores will be forced to close,
except for those selling food and other basic necessities.
Pedro Sánchez said the state of
emergency could be extended with congressional approval.
Authorities recorded 1,800 more
cases since March 13 – many in the capital Madrid.
This will be the second state of
emergency in the country since the transition to democracy began in 1975, the
first being a 2010 air traffic controllers’ strike.
With 191 deaths and 6,046 infections, Spain is the worst-hit European
country after Italy.
Rome declared a nationwide lockdown on March 16. More than 1,440 people have
died in Italy.
Meanwhile, the US is extending its
European coronavirus travel ban to include the UK and Republic of Ireland. The
ban will begin at midnight EST on March 16, VP Mike Pence announced.
On March 13, the World Health
Organization (WHO) said Europe was now the “epicenter” of the pandemic.
The WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilization and social distancing to save lives.
In Italy, where there are 12,447 confirmed cases, PM Giuseppe Conte has
announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues
across the country.
On March 11, Italian health officials said the death toll there had risen to
827 from 631. Nearly 900 people with the virus in Italy were in intensive care,
the WHO’s emergencies head Michael Ryan said.
Dr. Ryan said the situation in Iran – where there were 354 deaths among
9,000 cases – was “very serious”. The WHO had sent 40,000 testing
kits to Iran but there was still a shortage of ventilators and oxygen.
He said: “Iran and Italy are
suffering now but I guarantee you other countries will be in that situation
France said there had been 48 deaths in the country, an increase of 15 from
March 10. There are 2,281 confirmed cases. Coronavirus-linked restrictions have
been extended to two more areas, France’s health minister said.
In the western US, Washington state is banning some large gatherings in
certain areas and has told all school districts to prepare for possible
closures in the coming days. The governor of Seattle’s King County said he
expected a serious coronavirus outbreak within weeks.
In the eastern US, New York’s governor announced that troops would be sent
into New Rochelle, in an attempt to contain an outbreak of the virus, as the
total number of US cases passed 1,000 on March 11.
A one-mile containment zone was in force around the town north of Manhattan.
Some individuals have been quarantined.
A number of countries have imposed sweeping travel restrictions. India has
suspended most visas for foreigners until April 15. Guatemala is banning
European citizens from entering from March 12.
Music festivals and other major events in the US, including Coachella
festival in California, have been canceled or postponed. The E3 gaming show set
for Los Angeles in June is among those canceled.
Thousands of flights have been canceled worldwide as airlines struggle to
cope with a slump in demand.
UK health minister Nadine Dorries announced she had tested positive for
coronavirus and was self-isolating at home.
Several countries – including Sweden and Bulgaria, as well as the Republic
of Ireland – have recorded their first deaths, while the number of confirmed
cases in Qatar jumped from 24 to 262.
China – where the virus was first detected – has seen a total of 80,754
confirmed cases and 3,136 deaths. However, China recorded its lowest number of
new infections, just 19, on March 10.
Worldwide stock markets saw sharp falls because of concerns about the
economic impact of the virus.
China said it would postpone the annual meeting of the National People’s
Congress in March, to “continue the efforts” against the coronavirus.
The meeting, which approves decisions made by the Communist Party, has taken
place every year since 1978.
The proportion of infected people who die from Covid-19 appears to be
between 1% and 2%, although the WHO cautions that the mortality rate is not
On February 24, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain reported their
first cases, all involving people who had come from Iran. Officials in Bahrain
said the patient infected there was a school bus driver, and several schools
had been closed as a result.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief of the WHO, told reporters on February 24
that the number of new cases in recent days in Iran, Italy and South Korea was
However he added: “For the moment
we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus and we are
not witnessing large scale severe disease or deaths.
“Does this virus have pandemic potential?
Absolutely, it has. Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet.”
“The key message that should give
all countries hope, courage and confidence is that this virus can be contained,
indeed there are many countries that have done exactly that,” he added.
“Using the word ‘pandemic’ now
does not fit the facts but may certainly cause fear.”
However, Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies program, said now was
the time to make “do everything you would do to prepare for a
According to the WHO, there was also no major shift in the coronavirus’s
pattern of mortality or severity.
On February 12, Hubei recorded 242 deaths, the deadliest day of the
There was also a huge increase in cases, with 14,840 people diagnosed but
most of this was down to Hubei using a broader definition to diagnose people,
said Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies program.
He said: “This does not represent
a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak.”
Outside China there had been two deaths and 447 cases in 24 countries, he
On February 13, Japan announced its first coronavirus death – a woman in her
80s who lived in Kanagawa, south-west of Tokyo.
The woman’s diagnosis was confirmed after her death and she had no obvious
link to China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, Japanese media
The Diamond Princess cruise ship is in quarantine in Yokohama. Not all the
3,700 people on board have been tested yet.
People with the virus are taken to hospitals on land to be treated, while
those on board are largely confined to their cabins.
On February 13, Japan said it would
allow those aged 80 or over who have tested negative for the coronavirus to
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said
they could be allowed off the ship as early as February 14 but would have to
stay in accommodation provided by the government, the Japan Times reported.
Meanwhile another cruise ship – the
MS Westerdam – carrying more than 2,000 people docked in Cambodia after being
turned away by ports in Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand
despite having no sick patients on board.
Until February 13 increases, the number of people with the virus in Hubei
The new cases and deaths in the province have pushed the national death toll
above 1,350 with almost 60,000 infections in total.
White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said there had been
“surprise” in the US at the new cases.
He said: “We’re a little
disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese, these numbers
are jumping around.”
The Trump administration was also disappointed that China had not accepted a
US offer to send experts to help China respond to the outbreak, Larry Kudlow
China sacked two top officials in Hubei province hours after the new figures
Only Hubei province – which accounts for more than 80% of overall Chinese infections – is using the new definition to diagnose new cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that a highly effective vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus could be available by 2018.
Trials conducted in Guinea, one of the West African countries most affected by an outbreak of Ebola that ended this year, show the vaccine offers 100% protection.
The vaccine is now being fast-tracked for regulatory approval.
Manufacturer Merck has made 300,000 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine available for use should Ebola strike.
GAVI, the global vaccine alliance, provided $5 million for the stockpile.
The trial’s results, published in The Lancet medical journal, show of nearly 6,000 people receiving the vaccine, all were free of the virus 10 days later.
In a group of the same size not vaccinated, 23 later developed Ebola.
Only one person who was vaccinated had a serious side effect that the researchers think was caused by the jab. This was a very high temperature and the patient recovered fully.
It is not known how well the vaccine might work in children since this was not tested in the trial.
The trial was led by the WHO, working with Guinea’s health ministry and international groups.
WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, who is the lead author of the study, said the results could help combat future outbreaks: “While these compelling results come too late for those who lost their lives during West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, they show that when the next Ebola outbreak hits, we will not be defenseless.”
Other drug companies are developing different Ebola vaccines that could be used in the future too.
The Ebola virus was first identified in 1976 but the recent outbreak in West Africa, which killed more than 11,000 people, highlighted the need for a vaccine.
The Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in 2013 and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes now affects nearly one in 11 adults.
In a major report, the WHO warned cases had nearly quadrupled to 422 million in 2014 from 108 million in 1980.
High blood sugar levels are a major killer – linked to 3.7 million deaths around the world each year, it says.
WHO officials said the numbers would continue to increase unless “drastic action” was taken.
The report lumps both type 1 and type 2 diabetes together, but the surge in cases is predominantly down to type 2 – the form closely linked to poor lifestyle.
As the world’s waistlines have ballooned – with one-in-three people now overweight, so too has the number of diabetes cases.
Failing to control levels of sugar in the blood has devastating health consequences.
Diabetes triples the risk of a heart attack and leaves people 20 times more likely to have a leg amputated, as well as increasing the risk of stroke, kidney failure, blindness and complications in pregnancy.
The disease itself is the eighth biggest killer in the world, accounting for 1.5 million deaths each year.
A further 2.2 million deaths are linked to high blood sugar levels. And 43% of the deaths were before the age of 70.
In the 1980s the highest rates were found in affluent countries.
In a remarkable transformation, it is now low and middle income countries bearing the largest burden.
The Middle East has seen the prevalence of diabetes soar from 5.9% of adults in 1980 to 13.7% in 2014.
More than three quarters of teenagers in the region are doing less than the recommended level of exercise.
The WHO report said the solution required the whole of society to act.
It is only by keeping blood sugar levels in check that the deadly complications of the disease can be contained.
The report showed that two thirds of low income countries were not able to provide blood sugar monitors or drugs such as insulin or metformin for most people.
The World Health Organization is holding an emergency meeting in Geneva to discuss the “explosive” spread of the Zika virus.
The meeting will decide whether to declare a global emergency.
According to WHO officials, Zika as moving “from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions”.
Most cases will have no symptoms but the virus has been linked to brain abnormalities in thousands of babies in Brazil.
Meanwhile Brazilian officials have been given permission to break into properties that could be harboring mosquito breeding grounds.
They will be able to force entry when the place is abandoned or when nobody is there to give access to the house.
Declaring a “public health emergency of international concern” would establish Zika as a serious global threat and lead to money, resources and scientific expertise being thrown at the problem both in South America and in laboratories around the world.
The WHO’s actions are under intense scrutiny after its handling of the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.
Its efforts to prevent the spread of the virus were widely criticized and it was deemed to have been too slow to declare an emergency.
At the meeting, experts in disease control, virology and vaccine development will brief WHO director general Dr. Margaret Chan.
Last week, Margaret Chan said: “The level of concern is high, as is the level of uncertainty.
“Questions abound – we need to get some answers quickly.
“For all these reasons, I have decided to convene an emergency committee.
“I am asking the committee for advice on the appropriate level of international concern and for recommended measures that should be undertaken in affected countries and elsewhere.”
Since the mosquito-borne disease was first detected in Brazil in May 2015, the Zika virus has spread to more than 20 countries.
American specialists have urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to take urgent action over the Zika virus, which they say has “explosive pandemic potential”.
Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the scientists called on the WHO to heed lessons from the Ebola outbreak and convene an emergency committee of disease experts.
They said a vaccine might be ready for testing in two years but it could be a decade before it is publicly available.
Zika, linked to birth defects as microcephaly, has caused panic in Brazil.
Thousands of people have been infected there and it has spread to some 20 countries.
Brazilian President Dilma Roussef has urged Latin America to unite in combating the virus.
Dilma Rousseff told a summit in Ecuador that sharing knowledge about the disease was the only way that it would be beaten. A meeting of regional health ministers has been called for next week.
In the JAMA article, Daniel R. Lucey and Lawrence O. Gostin say the WHO’s failure to act early in the recent Ebola crisis probably cost thousands of lives.
They warn that a similar catastrophe could unfold if swift action is not taken over the Zika virus.
“An Emergency Committee should be convened urgently to advise the Director-General about the conditions necessary to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” Daniel R. Lucey and Lawrence O. Gostin wrote.
They added: “The very process of convening the committee would catalyze international attention, funding, and research.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on January 27 the US government intended to make a more concerted effort to communicate with Americans about the risks associated with the virus.
There is no cure for the Zika virus and the hunt is on for a vaccine, led by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
The researchers have visited Brazil to carry out research and collect samples and are now analyzing them in a suite of high-security laboratories in Galveston, Texas.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Zika virus is likely to spread across nearly all of the Americas.
The Zika virus, which causes symptoms including mild fever, conjunctivitis and headache, has already been found in 21 countries in the Caribbean, North and South America.
It has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains and some countries have advised women not to get pregnant.
No treatment or vaccine is available.
The Zika virus was first detected in 1947 in monkeys in Africa. There have since been small, short-lived outbreaks in people on the continent, parts of Asia and in the Pacific Islands.
It has spread on a massive scale in the Americas, where transmission was first detected in Brazil in May 2015.
Large numbers of the mosquitoes which carry the virus and a lack of any natural immunity is thought to be helping the infection to spread rapidly.
Zika is transmitted by the bite of Aedes mosquitoes, which are found in all countries in the region except Canada and Chile.
In a statement, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional office of the WHO, said: “PAHO anticipates that Zika virus will continue to spread and will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found.”
PAHO is advising people to protect themselves from the mosquitoes, which also spread dengue fever and chikungunya.
It also confirmed the virus had been detected in semen and there was “one case of possible person-to-person transmission” but further evidence was still needed.
Around 80% of infections do not result in symptoms.
However, the biggest concern is the potential impact on babies developing in the womb. There have been around 3,500 reported cases of microcephaly – babies born with tiny brains – in Brazil alone since October.
PAHO warned pregnant women to be “especially careful” and to see their doctor before and after visiting areas affected by the Zika virus.
Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica last week recommended women delay pregnancies until more was known about the virus.
Although officially PAHO says “any decision to defer pregnancy is an individual one between a woman, her partner and her healthcare provider”.
Prof. Laura Rodrigues, a fellow of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said some data suggested that up to one-in-fifty babies had birth defects in one of the worst hit areas – Pernambuco state in Brazil.
She said: “Until November we knew nothing, this has caught us by surprise and we’re trying to learn as fast as we can.
“Wherever there is dengue, there is mosquito, then it will spread and not just in Americas I think there is a very real chance it will spread in Asia.”
PAHO advice is to ensure all containers that can hold even small amounts of water should be emptied and cleaned to prevent mosquitoes breeding.
People should protect themselves by using insect repellent, covering up and keeping windows and doors closed.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, processed meats – such as bacon, hot dogs, sausages and ham – do cause cancer.
The WHO’s report said 50g of processed meat a day – less than two slices of bacon – increased the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18%.
Meanwhile, the health agency said red meats were “probably carcinogenic” but there was limited evidence.
The WHO did stress that meat also had health benefits.
Processed meat is meat that has been modified to increase its shelf-life or alter its taste – such as by smoking, curing or adding salt or preservatives.
It is these additions which could be increasing the risk of cancer. High temperature cooking, such as on a barbeque, can also create carcinogenic chemicals.
The WHO has come to the conclusion on the advice of its International Agency for Research on Cancer, which assesses the best available scientific evidence.
The International Agency for Research has now placed processed meat in the same category as plutonium, but also alcohol as they definitely do cause cancer.
However, this does not mean they are equally dangerous. A bacon sandwich is not as bad as smoking.
“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal [bowel] cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,” Dr. Kurt Straif from the WHO said.
Estimates suggest 34,000 deaths from cancer every year could be down to diets high in processed meat.
That is in contrast to one million deaths from cancer caused by smoking and 600,000 attributed to alcohol each year.
Red meat does have nutritional value too and is a major source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12.
However, the WHO said there was limited evidence that 100g of red meat a day increased the risk of cancer by 17%.
The WHO said its findings were important for helping countries give balanced dietary advice.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is to reveal whether some meats should be classed as carcinogens.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the WHO, has been reviewing evidence on whether red and processed meats increase the risk of bowel and other cancers.
According to experts, eating a lot of red and processed meat probably increases the risk of bowel cancer.
However, red meat can be part of a healthy diet.
Red meat includes beef, lamb, and pork. It looks darker in color than white meat, like poultry, because of higher levels of hemoglobin and myoglobin, the iron and oxygen-binding proteins you find in blood and muscle.
Processed meat is not fresh meat, in other words something has been done to it to extend its shelf life or change its taste such as smoking, curing or adding salt or preservatives.
Processed meat includes bacon, sausages, salami and ham. Simply putting fresh meat through a mincer does not make it processed
Meat is a good source of protein, B vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc.
Expert scientists’ advice is to consume healthier meat or meat products, such as lean cuts and lean mince, and cut down on processed meat.
Since 1971, more than 900 agents, including lifestyle factors and chemicals, have been evaluated by expert scientists for the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
More than 400 have been identified as carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, or possibly carcinogenic to humans.
Bacon, ham and sausages are set to be classed alongside cigarettes, arsenic and asbestos as cancer-causing by global health experts.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), everyone who has HIV should be offered antiretroviral drugs as soon as possible after diagnosis.
The health agency’s latest policy removes previous limits suggesting patients wait until the disease progresses.
The WHO has also recommended people at risk of HIV be given the drugs to help prevent the infection taking hold.
UNAIDS said these changes could help avert 21 million AIDS-related deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030.
The recommendations increase the number of people with HIV eligible for ARVs from 28 million to 37 million across the world.
The challenge globally will be making sure everyone has access to them and the funds are in place to pay for such a huge extension in treatment. Only 15 million people currently get the drugs.
Michel Sidibe, of UNAIDS, added: “Everybody living with HIV has the right to life-saving treatment. The new guidelines are a very important steps towards ensuring that all people living with HIV have immediate access to antiretroviral treatment.”
The WHO announcement comes after extensive research into the issue.
A US National Institutes of Health study due to run until 2016 was stopped early after an interim analysis found giving treatment straight after diagnosis cut deaths and complications, such as kidney or liver disease, by half.
The World Health Organization (WHO) calls for immediate measles vaccinations across Europe and central Asia after a series of outbreaks.
The WHO officials say they have been “taken aback” by more than 22,000 cases in 2014 and the first months of 2015.
The health organization demands that counties control the outbreaks with “no exception”.
It says the surges threaten the goal of eliminating measles in the region by the end of 2015.
Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said: “When we consider that over the past two decades we have seen a reduction of 96% in the number of measles cases in the European region, and that we are just a step away from eliminating the disease, we are taken aback by these numbers.
“We must collectively respond, without further delay, to close immunization gaps.
“It is unacceptable that, after the last 50 years’ efforts to make safe and effective vaccines available, measles continues to cost lives, money and time.”
According to the WHO, a growing number of parents are refusing to vaccinate their children or are facing barriers in getting the immunizations they need.
Dr. Nedret Emiroglu, from the WHO, says: “The priority is now to control current outbreaks through immunization activities targeting people at risk.
“At the same time, all countries, with no exception, need to keep a very high coverage of regular measles vaccination, so that similar outbreaks won’t happen again in our region, and measles can be eliminated once and for all.”
The news comes after an 18-month-old boy died of measles in Germany, sparking a nationwide debate about whether immunizations should be made compulsory.
In California, the department of public health has reported an outbreak of measles with more than 100 registered cases so far. Most of those showing symptoms of the disease were not vaccinated.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) latest report, the number of cases in the Ebola outbreak has exceeded 10,000, with 4,922 deaths.
Only 27 of the cases have occurred outside the three worst-hit countries, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Those three countries account for all but 10 of the fatalities.
Mali became the latest nation to record a death, a two-year-old girl. More than 40 people known to have come into contact with her have been quarantined.
The latest WHO situation report says that Liberia remains the worst affected country, with 2,705 deaths. Sierra Leone has had 1,281 fatalities and there have been 926 in Guinea.
Nigeria has recorded eight deaths and there has been one in Mali and one in the US.
The number of cases in the Ebola outbreak has exceeded 10,000, with 4,922 deaths
The WHO said the number of cases was now 10,141 but that the figure could be much higher, as many families were keeping relatives at home rather than taking them to treatment centers. It said many of the centers were overcrowded.
The latest report also shows no change in the number of cases and deaths in Liberia from the WHO’s previous report, three days ago.
Eight countries have registered cases in the outbreak. In West Africa, Senegal and Nigeria have now been declared virus-free by the WHO.
In the US, the governors of the states of New York and New Jersey have ordered a mandatory 21-day quarantine period for all doctors and other travelers who have had contact with Ebola victims in West Africa.
Anyone arriving from affected West African countries without having had confirmed contact with Ebola victims will be subject to monitoring by public health officials.
The move follows the diagnosis in New York of Dr. Craig Spencer, who had been working in Guinea.
The first person to be quarantined under the rules was a female health worker who arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport on October 24.
She had no symptoms then but later developed a fever. A preliminary test came back negative for Ebola, the New Jersey health department said on October 25, but the woman remains in isolation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia.
Liberia is one of the West African countries worst hit by the Ebola virus.
Speaking in Geneva, Dr. Marie Paule Kieny said work was also advancing quickly to get drugs and a vaccine ready for January 2015.
The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,500 people.
Most of the deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Dr, Marie Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director general for health system and innovation, said: “There are partnerships which are starting to be put in place to have capacity in the three countries to safely extract plasma and make preparation that can be used for the treatment of infective patients.
“The partnership which is moving the quickest will be in Liberia where we hope that in the coming weeks there will be facilities set up to collect the blood, treat the blood and be able to process it for use.”
Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia
It is still unclear how much will become available and whether it could meet demand.
If a person has successfully fought off the infection, it means their body has learned how to combat the virus and they will have antibodies in their blood that can attack Ebola.
Doctors can then take a sample of their blood and turn it into a treatment called serum – by removing the red blood cells but keeping the important antibodies – for other patients.
Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa, tested negative for the virus after reportedly receiving human serum containing antibodies from Ebola survivors.
Dr. Marie Paule Kieny said the treatment was not without risks, and WHO has already issued guidelines to ensure safety. Any donor blood will need to be screened for infections such a hepatitis and HIV, for example.
She said trials of two possible Ebola vaccines could produce initial results by the end of the year.
The vaccines will be tested first to see if they are safe for humans, and if they can protect people from the Ebola virus.
Once these questions have been answered, the WHO hopes to extend the trials to a much wider group of people and start giving it to Africa.
“These trials will all start in the coming two weeks… and continue for six months to a year but to have initial results about safety and immunogenicity to have a choice of a dose level by the end of this year in December.”
Dr. Marie Paule Kieny said there were a number of drugs being tested and developed in different countries.
A partnership between Oxford University and the Wellcome Trust is now visiting sites in the three affected African countries to identify which treatment centers would be adequate and willing to start testing drugs soon, she said.
WHO Director of Strategy, Dr. Christopher Dye, has said in a recent interview that leading global health experts did not anticipate the scale of the Ebola outbreak.
He said the international response was helping but needed to continue.
Ebola is entrenched in the capitals of the worst-affected countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the WHO says.
The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 3,860 people in 2014, mainly in West Africa.
More than 200 health workers are among the victims.
Christopher Dye said that that although no-one was in a position to anticipate the scale of the current outbreak, the important thing was to look forward.
The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 3,860 people in 2014, mainly in West Africa
“We’ve asked for a response of about $1 billion; so far we have around $300 million with more being pledged, so a bit less than half of what we need but it’s climbing quickly all the time,” he told BBC.
In April 2014, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warned of the potential spread of the virus, but the WHO played down the claims, saying that Ebola was neither an epidemic, nor was it unprecedented.
On October 10, MSF reported a sharp increase of Ebola cases in the Guinean capital, Conakry, dashing hopes that the disease was being stabilized there.
Meanwhile in Mali, an experimental serum is being tested on volunteer health workers.
The trial spans several countries, and the results will be sent to experts to determine whether it is able to protect against Ebola.
Meanwhile in Spain, seven more people are being monitored in hospital for Ebola.
They include two hairdressers who came into contact with Teresa Romero, a Madrid nurse who looked after an Ebola patient who had been repatriated from West Africa.
Teresa Romero is now reported to be gravely ill but stable.
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