As a growing chorus of seemingly impartial observers (including sell-side analysts at JP Morgan and Goldman) suggests that returning to lockdowns might not be the smartest way to sustainably fight SARS-CoV-2, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros said Monday during the organization’s latest briefing from its headquarters in Geneva that a cure for the virus might never be found, and that there is “no silver bullet.”
More than 100 vaccine candidates are in various stages of development and study, but only six tracked by the WHO have entered Phase 3 clinical trials, the most comprehensive series of trials yet designed to closely measure safety and efficacy.
But even without a vaccine, falling mortality rates in the US and globally suggest that doctors have made serious progress in treating the disease.
“A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection.”
“However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be,” Dr. Tedros said.
Still, the world has tools to stop the spread of outbreaks. Lockdowns, masks, social distancing, contact tracing. “Do it all,” Dr. Tedros – who, remember, isn’t a medical doctor, but holds a PhD in philosophy with a focus on community health – advised.
For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control.
Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all.
Inform, empower and listen to communities. Do it all.
For individuals, it’s about keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others. Do it all.
The message to people and governments is clear: do it all.
And when it’s under control, keep going!
Leaders must remember: When fighting COVID-19, lifting restrictions too early is the biggest mistake a country can make.
Keep strengthening the health system.
Keep improving surveillance, contact tracing and ensure disrupted health services are restarted as quickly as possible.
Keep safeguards and monitoring in place, because lifting restrictions too quickly can lead to a resurgence.