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Coronavirus [COVID-19] – WHO
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)
Weekly Epidemiological and Operational updates
Last update: 16 January 2021
Confirmed cases :: 92 506 811 [week ago: 87 589 206] [two weeks ago: 82 356 727
Confirmed deaths :: 2 001 773 [week ago: 1 906 606] [two weeks ago: 1 815 433]
Countries, areas or territories with cases :: 223
Weekly epidemiological update – 12 January 2021
Following two weeks of low reporting, likely due to the year-end and holiday period, the overall upward trend seen prior to this period is continuing, with just under 5 million new cases reported last week globally. This brings the cumulative numbers to over 88 million reported cases and over 1.9 million deaths globally since the start of the pandemic.
In this issue, we summarize the current epidemiological situation regarding SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.
Statement on the sixth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic
15 January 2021 Statement
The sixth meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) took place on Thursday, 14 January 2021 from 12:15 to 16:45 Geneva time (CEST)….
…The WHO Director of the Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals Department presented the current status of the COVID-19 vaccine landscape and introduction. The Chair of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) noted available guidance including WHO SAGE Roadmap for Prioritizing Uses of COVID-19 Vaccines in the Context of Limited Supply and the Interim Recommendations for Use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (BNT162b2) under Emergency Use Listing.
The Director of Air Transport Bureau of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) shared their COVID-19 activities related to testing and vaccination, including the Manual on Testing and Cross Border Risk Management Measures (Doc 10152) which provides countries with risk management strategies for international travel. The WHO Unit Head of the IHR Secretariat provided an overview of the legal provisions as well as the scientific, ethical and technological considerations for vaccination certificates related to international travel.
The Committee recognized the challenges posed by some manufacturers’ delayed submission of vaccine data to WHO. These data delays impact WHO’s ability to provide emergency use listing which ultimately affect equitable vaccine access. The Committee strongly encourages manufacturers to provide data to WHO as rapidly as possible.
The Committee unanimously agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic still constitutes an extraordinary event, a public health risk to other States through international spread, and continues to require a coordinated international response. As such, the Committee concurred that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) and offered advice to the Director-General.
The Committee recognized WHO’s and States Parties’ progress in implementing the previous Temporary Recommendations from the 5th meeting of the Emergency Committee. The Committee noted that these recommendations remain relevant and had acquired additional urgency given the evolution of the pandemic and the continued need for a coordinated global response. The Committee advised on extending the previous Temporary Recommendations and provided additional advice to the Director-General.
The Director-General determined that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to constitute a PHEIC. He accepted the advice of the Committee to WHO and issued the Committee’s advice to States Parties as Temporary Recommendations under the IHR.
The Emergency Committee will be reconvened within three months, at the discretion of the Director-General. The Director-General thanked the Committee for its work…
Specific Recommendations made by the Emergency Committee to the WHO Secretariat and Additional Temporary Recommendations to State Parties are available here.
IHR Emergency Committee on COVID-19 advises on variants, vaccines
15 January 2021 News release
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), according to the WHO Emergency Committee (EC) on COVID-19.
The EC met virtually yesterday (14 January) at the request of WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to review the emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and to consider the potential use of vaccination and testing certificates for international travel.
On variants, the EC called for a global expansion of genomic sequencing and sharing of data, along with greater scientific collaboration to address critical unknowns.
The committee urged WHO to develop a standardized system for naming new variants that avoids geographical markers, an area WHO has already begun work on.
On vaccines, the committee underlined the need for equitable access through the COVAX Facility as well as technology transfer to increase global production capacities.
The committee strongly encouraged vaccine manufacturers to rapidly provide safety and efficacy data to WHO for emergency use listing. The lack of such data is a barrier to ensuring the timely and equitable supply of vaccines at the global level…
16 January 2021 News release
Scientists tackle vaccine safety, efficacy and access at global R&D forum
More than 2,800 scientists from 130 countries gathered on Friday (January 15) in a virtual forum hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to identify knowledge gaps and set research priorities for vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
They discussed the safety and efficacy of existing vaccines and new candidates, ways to optimize limited supply, and the need for additional safety studies.
“The development and approval of several safe and effective vaccines less than a year after this virus was isolated and sequenced is an astounding scientific accomplishment,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, in his opening remarks. “The approval of the first few vaccines does not mean the job is done. Far from it. More vaccines are in the pipeline, which must be evaluated to ensure we have enough doses to vaccinate everyone.”
More than 30 million vaccine doses have already been administered in 47 mostly high-income countries. But the global vaccine rollout has exposed glaring inequalities in access to this life-saving tool…
…The meeting concluded with agreement to establish a WHO-hosted platform for global sharing and coordination of emerging vaccine research information on efficacy and safety. The forum would enable scientists to share and discuss unpublished and published data and research protocols to further our collective understanding of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.
“The WHO will regularly convene experts from around the world, promote collaborative research, provide standard protocols and develop a platform for sharing the latest knowledge in the field,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist.