Monday 28 September 2020
Dr. Rana Al-Hajjah, Director of Programs Department at the WHO Regional Office, described the epidemiological situation of the “emerging corona” virus currently as “extremely worrying”, as the number of cases increases every day in some countries, and highlights the urgent need to take more stringent measures.
In an interview with Masrawy, Al-Hujjah called for expanding the conduct of solidarity tests and not being limited to people who go to hospitals and clinics and already show symptoms of infection, explaining that experts and drug-producing companies have not reached a drug intended to treat Corona patients.
And it revealed that there are 180 candidate vaccines within the framework of the trials coordinated by the World Health Organization, and among these vaccines about 35 vaccines entered the third phase of the trials, and despite this it is difficult to set a deadline for the provision of the vaccine, but according to the data we have, it is expected That the vaccine is ready for distribution in mid-2021 .. And to the text of the dialogue:
What is your view of the epidemiological situation of “Corona” in the Eastern Mediterranean Region .. There are fears of a second wave that is more severe than the first?
Perhaps the term second wave is not scientifically accurate, nor can we determine a date for the receding of the first wave and the start of a new wave, but we certainly notice a return to the high numbers of injuries and we must warn about them and pay attention to them and work to stop them by doubling the efforts made.
It is also necessary to expand testing and not be limited to people who go to hospitals and clinics and already show symptoms of infection, and the higher the number of people who undergo testing, the more cases are discovered and adequately isolated, and the higher the number of contacts that are being tracked, the more effective Infection containment efforts.
Nevertheless, why have the numbers of “Corona injuries” increased again?
The number of cases in the Eastern Mediterranean Region exceeded 2 million and 300 thousand cases, and the number of deaths exceeded 60 thousand deaths.
The current situation is extremely worrying, with the number of cases increasing every day, and the significant increase in the number of cases in some countries is of great concern, highlighting the urgent need for more drastic measures.
This increase in the number of cases was expected and we warned about it a lot, due to the countries easing restrictions months after the imposition of the comprehensive ban, and the accompanying reduction of the increase in population movement, so governments should develop the response and double the effort that they have been making since the beginning of the pandemic.
Some countries in the region decided to return to schools again, despite fears of increasing numbers .. Do you see this as an appropriate solution?
We know that the stay of students, especially young pupils, at home has been long to an extent that may threaten their psychological well-being, in addition to the social and educational implications of their departure from the regular learning environment, his disciplined behaviors, and their lack of the company of colleagues and friends.
Hence, most countries find returning to school a necessity, but the challenge is to make returning to school safe for all parties to the educational process.
As educational facilities prepare to reopen their doors throughout the region, the risk of further transmission increases greatly, and therefore it is important that students, teachers, other workers (cleaners, food handlers, and others), parents, parents and community members participate in promoting health and safety in schools. .
What are your advice with schools to protect students and workers from Corona?
As a regional office, we have prepared guidelines on safe return to school that include actions that the organization recommends taking, including: staying home when sick, covering the mouth and nose by bending the elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing, washing hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol-based disinfectant, and cleaning surfaces and utensils. Touching constantly, maintaining a distance of at least one meter from others, wearing a muzzle when necessary or if physical distancing is not possible, and greeting people by waving the hand, nodding the head or placing a hand on the heart.
These measures are important to prevent the possible spread of “Covid-19” disease inside and outside educational settings, and it is also important to avoid stigmatizing anyone who has been exposed to the virus.
What are the latest updates regarding “Corona vaccines” … and how many so far?
There are 180 candidate vaccines within the framework of the solidarity trials coordinated by the World Health Organization, and among these vaccines, about 35 vaccines entered the third phase of trials, that is, the phase concerned with clinical testing of the vaccine on humans to ensure the safety, safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, and there are a large number in the first and second stages, It is expected to enter the third phase in the next two months, and this is the largest vaccine portfolio ever.
When do you expect the first and closest vaccine to appear?
It is difficult at present to set a deadline; To provide the vaccine, but according to our available clinical trial data, it is expected that the “Covid-19 vaccine” will be ready for distribution by mid-2021.
Some countries in the region – including Egypt – are conducting clinical trials on two Chinese vaccines against “Corona” … Do you follow such experiences … and what is your position on them?
The World Health Organization is the main coordinator of the process of developing a vaccine and treatment for Covid-19, and it plays this role with a large number of research centers, drug-producing countries and experts. The organization also receives available data from clinical trials on a regular basis, and it follows up on research procedures. To ensure that all standard requirements for clinical trials are applied, whether for treatments or vaccines.
The organization sponsors the solidarity experiment on a number of drugs to be used as a treatment for “Corona” .. What are the latest details about it .. Has any medicine been proven effective so far?
Efforts are still continuing to develop a treatment for Covid-19 disease, the World Health Organization has worked with its partners to coordinate solidarity trials to reach an effective medicine by subjecting several drugs – they were mainly used to treat other diseases and were used to relieve symptoms of “Covid-19” for experimentation to ensure their effectiveness and safety. .
Indeed, these experiments have benefited from the exclusion of drugs whose effectiveness has not been proven, such as hydroxychloroquine and until now experts and drug-producing companies have not reached a drug specifically for Covid-19, although there is a drug that the United Kingdom developed several months ago, called methasone, which treats critical cases of Covid-19 has proven effective in reducing deaths among those receiving treatment with respiratory ventilators.
Do countries need to re-apply precautionary measures and closure again to confront the second wave of “Corona”?
What countries need at this stage is to find ways to address the re-emergence of “Corona cases”, and to limit the spread of infection, by redoubling efforts; To detect more cases, perform more testing, trace contacts, provide treatment and supportive care.
Just as individuals and societies must always be vigilant, millions of people remain at risk. And strict adherence to social measures, such as wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, and following correct personal hygiene measures.
People are still in great fear of “Corona” … Is there no point of hope at the end of the epidemic’s turn?
There is no need to fear and panic, what we need is vigilance, caution, seriousness and commitment, and there is great hope for the success of all efforts made since the emergence of the virus that causes the pandemic, and we are continuing so far on all levels, and we are very close to developing an anti-“Covid-19” vaccine, This will be a turning point in our battle against the pandemic.
Until the vaccine is developed, manufactured and distributed, we must remember that we have other tools and weapons that can help us fight the pandemic, reduce cases of infection, and save more lives, the most important of which are: “Commitment to preventive measures and precautionary measures at the level of governments, societies, individuals and organizations.” We can defeat this virus only if we continue our work together, and we are committed and constantly alert and alert.