#covid19 presser @WHO starts with @drtedros saying the pandemic "continues to take a heavy toll on families, communities and nations the world over. But it’s also giving rise to incredible acts of generosity, solidarity and cooperation.” Then introduces today’s guest: @ladygaga
Reason for appearance of @ladygaga and @Hughcevans, CEO of @gllbctzn, is apparently the #TogetherAtHome concert series, which will have a “One World: #TogetherAtHome" virtual global special on Saturday, the 18th of April.
. @Hughcevans announcing some of the names now that will appear incl. Alanis Morissette, Paul McCartney, Billie Eilish, Lang Lang...
(WHO pressers starting to feel a bit like Friends around season 6 or 7, with a different high-profile guest appearance every week. I’m more interested in what @DrMikeRyan and @mvankerkhove have to say tbh. But I’m probably just too German for this celebrity stuff 🤷‍♂️ )
Moving from music to masks, @drtedros says: "We are concerned that the mass use of medical masks by the general population could exacerbate the shortage of these specialized masks for the people who need them most."
WHO has been evaluating wider use of masks, says @drtedros and is issuing guidance "to support countries in making that decision”. Says masks may be good in countries where cleaning hands and #physicaldistancing are difficult because of lack of water or cramped living conditions.
"What is clear is that there is limited research in this area”, says @drtedros and calls on countries that are considering use of masks for general population “to study their effectiveness so we can all learn”. (Important point.)
Masks should only be used as part of package, says @drtedros. "There is no black or white answer, and no silver bullet. Masks alone cannot stop the #covid19 pandemic.” Countries should (repeat with me): "find, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact"
Says President and health minister of Costa Rica have proposed creating a pool of rights to tests, medicines and vaccines with free access or licensing on affordable terms for all countries. “I support this proposal, and we are working with Costa Rica to finalize the details."
"I call on all countries, companies and research institutions to support open data, open science and open collaboration so that all people can enjoy the benefits of science and research”, says @DrTedros.
Q about violence against health workers. @DrMikeRyan: “The idea of violence against health workers is driven by fear and is driven by misunderstanding. But it is really unacceptable. We ask every community to see our health workers as our heroes."
Q about transmission from asymptomatic cases. Most transmission is occurring from symptomatic individuals, says @mvankerkhove. "It’s possible people can transmit in the few days before they become symptomatic.” But not a major driver of transmission, she says.
. @DrMikeRyan mentions question of how dose of infection may influence severity of infection. "We probably need to look at who is getting sick or very sick. Is the dose and the type of exposure they are getting different from those who seroconvert in the community?"
Q from Malaysia about data to consider before lifting lockdowns. @DrMikeRyan
says some numbers to consider are free hospital beds (there needs to be capacity), doubling rate of infections, proportion of all samples that test positive, etc.
On rate of positive tests @DrMikeRyan contrasts South Korea (2-6 percent of tests positive with New York where last week 37% of tests came back positive)
Q from Nigeria: "Africa has not suffered the worst of this pandemic so far”, says @DrMikeRyan. The worst can still be avoided, he says. @mvankerkhove
reinforces that. Says some countries only have imported cases so far. "There is an opportunity here."
African continent has the lowest number of cases so far, says @DrTedros. “That does not mean that the situation will not deteriorate. It may. Africa should do everything to prevent this situation from getting worse.” (I would add: little testing capacity, so who knows…)
"Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine”, says @drtedros. Same protocols will be followed to test any vaccines and any therapeutics whether in Europe, America or Africa.
"We need to address the problem ahead of time”, says @drtedros about question of equitable distribution. Says @WHO will put together a mechanism and appoint senior people from North and South on how to accelerate production and ensure equitable distribution.
(Just to point out that this was @drtedros being explicitly political in a way I haven’t often heard him be in these pressers. Clearly something he feels strongly about, as he should.)
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