A vaccine against the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus may be ready in 18 months, said director-general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Addressing the media on Tuesday, he urged for countries to come together and step up measures against the rapidly spreading virus. He also added that the disease caused by the virus is now being called COVID-19 for coronavirus disease of 2019. The name, he said, hopefully helps reduce any geographical association with the disease.
The WHO appealed for virus samples to be shared and to increase research measures dedicated to finding a drug or developing a vaccine.
“The first vaccine could be ready in 18 months. So we have to do everything today using the available weapons to fight this virus while preparing for the long term using the preparations for the vaccines,” the director-general said. He also stressed the importance of recognizing the disease as ‘public enemy number 1.’
“A virus can have more powerful consequences than any terrorist action. If the world doesn’t want to wake up and consider this enemy virus as Public Enemy number 1, I don’t think we will learn from our lessons,” he stated.
As of Wednesday, there have been a total of 1,113 deaths reported from China, with over 44,000 individuals infected with the virus globally. Apart from Germany, Britain and Italy, other European countries with cases of the virus include France, Russia, Belgium, Sweden, Finland and Spain.
In India, 3 confirmed cases were reported from Kerala, all three of whom are significantly improving and showing negative results for the virus in their latest tests.
The coronavirus is a new strain which was identified in early January. The virus belongs to the same family of viruses as the organisms which caused the SARS outbreak of 2003 and the MERS cases reported in 2012.