WHO warns of virus immunity as global death toll nears 200,000
Governments around the world are fighting to limit the economic devastation unleashed by the virus, which has infected nearly 2.8 million people and left half of humanity under some form of blockade.
The United Nations has joined world leaders in an effort to accelerate the development of a vaccine, but effective treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, are still far off.
But with signs that the disease is reaching its peak in the US. USA And Europe, governments are beginning to ease the restrictions, weighing the need for economic recovery against warnings that lifting them too soon risks a second wave of infections.
The WHO warned on Saturday that there is still no evidence that people who test positive for the new coronavirus and recover are immunized and protected against reinfection.
The warning came as some governments study measures such as “immunity passports” or documents for those who have recovered as a way to get people back to work after weeks of economic shutdown.
“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from # COVID19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” the WHO said in a statement.
“People who assume they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice,” he said.
On Friday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on international organizations, world leaders and the private sector to join the effort to accelerate the development and distribution of a vaccine.
Any vaccine must be safe, affordable and available to everyone, Guterres said in a virtual meeting, attended by leaders from Germany and France.
However, leaders of China, where the virus first emerged late last year, and the United States, which accused the WHO of not warning quickly enough about the original outbreak, were absent.
The spread of COVID-19 is also increasing other medical risks with the WHO warning that nearly 400,000 more people could die of malaria due to disruption of the supply of mosquito nets and medications.
World Malaria Day was celebrated on Saturday, a disease that the WHO says could kill around 770,000 this year, or “twice as much as in 2018.”
With more than four billion people still under control or orders to stay home, governments are debating how to lift restrictions without causing an increase in infections and how to revive economies hit by weeks of closure.
The number of daily deaths in western countries appears to be declining, a sign that hopeful epidemiologists have been looking for, but the WHO warned that other nations are still in the early stages of the fight.
Global COVID-19 deaths have exceeded 197,000, according to an AFP count, but new reported cases appear to have stabilized at around 80,000 per day.
The United States is the country most affected by the pandemic, with more than 51,500 deaths and more than 890,000 infections.
The daily number of viruses in Spain, the third highest death rate in the world, increased slightly on Saturday with the death of 378 people, a day after the country recorded its lowest number of deaths in four weeks.
In a sign of possible risks, Iranian health officials also expressed fear on Saturday of a “new outbreak” with another 76 deaths reported, bringing the official number of deaths in Iran to 5,650.
Iran has constantly allowed the reopening of closed businesses to stop the spread of the virus. But Alireza Zali, the capital’s health coordinator, criticized “hasty reopens” that could “create new waves of disease in Tehran.”
The UN push for a rapid vaccine came a day after United States President Donald Trump sparked protests and ridicule with his suggestion that disinfectants be used to treat patients with coronavirus.
As experts, and disinfectant manufacturers, were quick to warn against any dangerous experiments, the president tried to reject his comments, saying he had been speaking “sarcastically.”
The world’s largest economy has been hit by the pandemic, with 26 million jobs lost since the crisis began, and US leaders are under pressure to find ways to ease measures of social distancing.
Despite Trump’s criticism, the Georgia governor allowed some companies, including nail salons and bowling alleys, to reopen on Friday, prompting criticism and relief.
The mayor of the state capital, Atlanta, condemned the measure “irresponsible” and told ABC News: “There is nothing essential in going to a bowling alley or giving a manicure in the midst of a pandemic.”
In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended her order to stay home until May 15, but eased some restrictions by allowing landscapers and bicycle mechanics to return to work, and ended bans on golf and boating. .
The unprecedented situation has left the world looking at its worst recession since the Great Depression, and world leaders are trying to balance public health concerns with economic needs.
Beyond the United States, other countries have already begun to relax the restrictions.
Italy announced plans on Saturday to set price limits on face masks and increase antibody testing as the end of the world’s longest active national coronavirus blockade approaches.
Italians are awaiting a decision this weekend about which of their restrictions will be lifted and will likely be allowed to move freely from their homes for the first time from March 9 to early May.
Sri Lanka said it would lift the national curfew on Monday after more than five weeks, as Belgium joined other European nations in announcing a relaxation starting in mid-May.
In France, which will be closed until May 11, residents still confined to their homes have praised health workers and protested their frustrations with officials on painted banners hanging outside their windows.
“Thank the caregivers, a pity for the leaders,” said one of those posters hanging outside a building in a Paris suburb.
On the other side of the world in Australia and New Zealand, people held vigils from the isolation of their own ways to pay tribute to their war veterans on Anzac Day.
The official memorials were held behind closed doors.
Across the Muslim world, hundreds of millions of worshipers also opened the holy month of Ramadan in a position to stay home, facing unprecedented bans on prayers in mosques and in large traditional gatherings of families and friends to break the daily fast.