WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE

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16-Apr-2021 00:03:44
WHO’s chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "around the world, cases and deaths are continuing to increase at worrying rates," adding that “this is approaching the highest rate of infection that we have seen so far during the pandemic. Some countries that had previously avoided widespread transmission are now seeing steep increases in infections." WHO

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STORY: WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE
TRT:3:44
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 16 APRIL 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

1.Wide shot, press briefing room
2.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
"Around the world, cases and deaths are continuing to increase at worrying rates. Globally, the number of new cases per week has nearly doubled over the past two months. This is approaching the highest rate of infection that we have seen so far during the pandemic. Some countries that had previously avoided widespread transmission are now seeing steep increases in infections."
3.Wide shot, press briefing room
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
"This virus variant, it's a variant of interest, the B.1.617 lineage. This was first detected and reported by India having two mutations: the E484Q and the L452R. Those are specific mutations within the genome. This was reported by scientists out of India. They actually presented to us at our virus evolution working group on Monday, giving us some information about the studies that are underway and working in collaboration across the country, but also with scientists around the world. It was first seen in two states at the end of 2020. And there is an increasing proportion of cases of this B.1.617 that have increased since the end of last year. As you know, these virus variants, the virus mutates, the virus changes over time, this is one variant of interest that we are following. Having two of these mutations, which have been seen in other variants around the world, are concerning because there's a similarity in these mutations that confer increased transmissibility, for example, and some of these mutations also result in reduced neutralisation, which may have an impact on our countermeasures, including the vaccines."
5.Wide shot, press briefing room
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist:
"But at this point, we have to be really very careful when we discuss the idea of the vaccine passport and what exactly do we mean when we talk about a vaccine passport. If it's a record and what we are recommending is that all individuals who get vaccines have a record and this can be a digital record. And we have produced the technical standards for what this record looks like, a smart vaccination card or a digital card, move from paper to digital. That's good for everyone. It's good for countries and systems, immunization programs, and it's also good for individuals who don't have to carry a paper around with them. But that's very different from making it mandatory for someone to have, you know, a certificate in order to travel. That's where the problems really start coming up. And we have to think very carefully about it."
7. Wide shot, press briefing room
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Mike Ryan EXD, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
"We want people to keep a record of vaccination and we want countries to keep a record of who they vaccinate. So, having a record on paper terms or in a booklet or a digital record on your phone of your vaccination status is good for you. That's good for your health, and it's good for the authorities to know who's been vaccinated in any given country for planning purposes. That's very different to what that document or what that certificate is then used for. Is that document going to be used so you can access or not access to your workplace? Or access or not access international travel? Or access or access university education? And that raises many issues, as Soumya said, ethical issues, equity issues as well. And they do need to be considered, especially in a world where vaccine is distributed in such a grossly iniquitous way."
9. Close up, WHO emblem

STORYLINE:

WHO’s chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "around the world, cases and deaths are continuing to increase at worrying rates," adding that “this is approaching the highest rate of infection that we have seen so far during the pandemic. Some countries that had previously avoided widespread transmission are now seeing steep increases in infections."

Speaking to reporters in Geneva today (16 Apr) WHO’s Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, said, "this virus variant, it's a variant of interest, the B.1.617 lineage. This was first detected and reported by India having two mutations: the E484Q and the L452R. Those are specific mutations within the genome.”

She continued, “this was reported by scientists out of India. They actually presented to us at our virus evolution working group on Monday, giving us some information about the studies that are underway and working in collaboration across the country, but also with scientists around the world. It was first seen in two states at the end of 2020. And there is an increasing proportion of cases of this B.1.617 that have increased since the end of last year.”

Kerkhove added, “as you know, these virus variants, the virus mutates, the virus changes over time, this is one variant of interest that we are following. Having two of these mutations, which have been seen in other variants around the world, are concerning because there's a similarity in these mutations that confer increased transmissibility, for example, and some of these mutations also result in reduced neutralisation, which may have an impact on our countermeasures, including the vaccines."
WHO’s chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan also briefed the reporters. She said, “at this point, we have to be really very careful when we discuss the idea of the vaccine passport and what exactly do we mean when we talk about a vaccine passport. If it's a record and what we are recommending is that all individuals who get vaccines have a record and this can be a digital record. And we have produced the technical standards for what this record looks like, a smart vaccination card or a digital card, move from paper to digital. That's good for every one. It's good for countries and systems, immunization programs, and it's also good for individuals who don't have to carry a paper around with them.”

However, Swaminathan said, “that's very different from making it mandatory for someone to have, you know, a certificate in order to travel. That's where the problems really start coming up. And we have to think very carefully about it."

WHO’s Dr Mike Ryan said, "we want people to keep a record of vaccination and we want countries to keep a record of who they vaccinate. So, having a record on paper terms or in a booklet or a digital record on your phone of your vaccination status is good for you. That's good for your health, and it's good for the authorities to know who's been vaccinated in any given country for planning purposes. That's very different to what that document or what that certificate is then used for.”

He continued, “is that document going to be used so you can access or not access to your workplace? Or access or not access international travel? Or access or access university education? And that raises many issues, as Soumya said, ethical issues, equity issues as well. And they do need to be considered, especially in a world where vaccine is distributed in such a grossly iniquitous way."
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