- The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned a vaccine for COVID-19 may never be found
- Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the remarks at a COVID-19 media briefing on Monday, six months on from the WHO's original declaration the virus was a Public Health Emergency of International Concern
- The Director-General says the best course of action for now is to act on the health advice: testing, tracing and treatment regimes from governments, along with mask-wearing, hand-washing and physical distancing for people
- While there are hundreds of vaccine trials underway, there is no guarantee any will prove effective in the long term
The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned a vaccine for COVID-19 may never be found.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the remarks at a COVID-19 media briefing on Monday, six months on from the WHO's original declaration the virus was a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
At that time, there were fewer than 100 cases and no deaths outside China.
Now, there are over 18 million confirmed cases worldwide, and over 680,000 deaths.
No silver bullet
The Director-General says the best course of action for now is to act on the health advice: "Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all," he said.
"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."
"There’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be," he added.
Hope springs eternal
There are hundreds of clinical trials going on around the world on the hunt for the vaccine. Many have entered phase three of human testing, meaning the outcomes could be known in the coming months, and vaccines rolled out late this year or early in 2021.
Russia has even spruiked a vaccine it plans to roll out in October, though there are grave concerns over the level of clinical testing conducted by the Defence Ministry-backed Gamelaya Institute, which created the treatment.
So far, there is no clear indication any vaccine would work perfectly to stop the virus for good. In the case a vaccine does last for only a few months, or if the virus mutates into a resistant strain, the world will essentially be back at square one — even if authorities do manage to roll out the billions of doses required to stop the virus.
Ultimately, the message from the WHO is clear.
"Over the past week we’ve seen several countries that appeared as though they were past the worst now contending with fresh spikes in cases," Mr Ghebreyesus said.
"We have seen around the world, that it’s never too late to turn this pandemic around. If we act together today, we can save lives, we can save livelihoods if we do it all together," he added.