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Plan to step up Wuhan virus research

Thursday February 13th, 2020

Leading researchers have agreed a plan that will see accelerated development of COVID-19 vaccines and other research, it was announced last night.

More than 300 scientists met at the World Health Organisation headquarters in Geneva to agree the plan.

It came as another 2,000 cases of infection were confirmed, mostly in China, bringing the total to more than 45,000 with 1,115 deaths. In the UK a ninth case of infection was confirmed.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “This outbreak is a test of solidarity -- political, financial and scientific.

"We need to come together to fight a common enemy that does not respect borders, ensure that we have the resources necessary to bring this outbreak to an end and bring our best science to the forefront to find shared answers to shared problems. Research is an integral part of the outbreak response.”

Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah, chair of the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness, said: "As a group of funders we will continue to mobilize, coordinate and align our funding to enable the research needed to tackle this crisis and stop the outbreak, in partnership with WHO.

“Equitable access – making sure we share data and reach those most in need, in particular those in lower and middle-income countries, is fundamental to this work which must be guided by ethical considerations at all times.”

The actions were backed by UK-based Wellcome.

Director Dr Jeremy Farrar said: “This is an unprecedented outbreak – of a virus never seen before, spreading in a way which makes it extremely challenging to control. We cannot yet predict how grave the impact may be in any country beyond China, now seeing cases.

"We do know the impact this is having in China and should applaud their extraordinary efforts to contain it. We can, however, be sure no country can afford to wait and see. For every country, now is the time to act."

* Emerging evidence suggests an infected pregnant woman is unlikely to pass the virus to her child, according to Chinese researchers in a study reported in The Lancet.

Doctors searched amniotic fluids, cord blood and neonatal throat swabs for traces of infection in six pregnancies in Wuhan. All the results were negative.

An analysis of nine pregnancies in Wuhan involving pregnant women found four instances of complications in pregnancy - but that all resulted in livebirths and live mothers.

Clinical characteristics and intrauterine vertical transmission potential of COVID-19 infection in nine pregnant women: a retrospective review of medical records. Lancet 12 February 2020

https://www.thelancet.com/lancet/article/S0140-6736(20)30360-3

Tags: Asia | Europe | Flu & Viruses | Respiratory | UK News

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