WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE

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02-Jul-2021 00:06:05
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said, “"We are in a very dangerous period of this pandemic,” and stressed that “no country on earth is out of the woods yet.” WHO

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STORY: WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE
TRT: 6:05
SOURCE: WHO
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LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 02 JULY 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

FILE – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Aerial shot, WHO headquarters exterior

02 JULY 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. Wide shot, press briefing room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"We are in a very dangerous period of this pandemic. In those countries with low vaccination coverage, terrible scenes of hospitals overflowing are again becoming the norm. But no country on earth is out of the woods yet. The Delta variant is dangerous and is continuing to evolve and mutate, which requires constant evaluation and careful adjustment of the public health response. Delta has been detected in at least 98 countries and is spreading quickly in countries with low and high vaccination coverage."
4. Wide shot, press briefing room
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"This week, WHO hosted a two-day summit with heads of state, heads of government, ministers and civil society leaders from Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which focused on building resilient health systems in the face of multiple threats. Climate crisis, the severe impact of the pandemic on lives and livelihoods, vaccine inequity and the large burden of noncommunicable diseases were discussed and concrete outcomes developed on how together we can tackle them."
6. Wide shot, press briefing room
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“On an almost day-to-day basis, we are now seeing the impact of the climate crisis. Record breaking scorching heatwaves, catastrophic storms and changing weather patterns are impacting food systems, disease dispersion and societies at large. The time for lofty words is over, there needs to be concerted action, backed by financial resources to mitigate the consequences of climate change while we work to keep temperatures down and scale green innovations."
8. Wide shot, press briefing room
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Gaston Browne, Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda:
"And, we know too that one of the consequences of climate change is the fact that more pathogens will be released and the likelihood of having future pandemics within a short period of time, maybe every several years, every decade, is likely. And that is one of the reasons to why we have to prioritize the issue of climate change in order to protect the planet and at the same time, even to control or to reduce or eliminate, for that matter, the pandemics that may follow in the future."
10. Wide shot, press briefing room
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"Some countries, regions, have launched so-called vaccine certificates and I want to make it very clear that it is important that these do not lead to discrimination against those people and countries that have either a lack of vaccines or certain type of vaccine. As you know, WHO issues Emergency Use Listings for vaccines based on a stringent assessment of safety and efficacy and we expect all countries to recognize and accept those vaccines that WHO has approved."
12. Wide shot, press briefing room
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization (WHO):
"Yes, indeed. We saw that report showing that up to 10 months of a gap between the first and the second dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine still provided very good immunogenicity after the second dose and had resulted in high levels of neutralizing antibodies. It is very reassuring, I think, for people and for countries where there may be a delay in obtaining the second dose. We know there are supply constraints in many countries that received the first dose and have given the first dose to people do not have supplies for the second dose. COVAX is trying to address that. But in the meantime, it's reassuring that a longer gap beyond the eight to 12 weeks that is currently recommended by WHO is not going to pay a penalty for that. People will still mount a good immune response."
14. Wide shot, press briefing room
15. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Joachim Hombach, Executive Secretary, Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization:
"And there is obviously many more so-called mix and match studies (of COVID-19 vaccines) that are ongoing. What I don't think we can do is to provide a generic recommendation that you can mix and match in any way you want. This is product specific, and it is important that these data are being generated."
16. Close up, WHO emblem on wall in briefing room
17. Wide shot, press briefing room
18. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization (WHO):
(Begins under cutaway) "Another important issue that we are tracking is the effectiveness of vaccines against different variants that are circulating, particularly the variants of concern. As you heard, one of the criteria that are used to define a variant of concern is if that variant has a lower capacity for neutralisation by antibodies, either after natural infection or after vaccines. The information on this is rather patchy, particularly for some of the vaccines that are being widely used. So, we have a lot of information, for example, on the Pfizer BioNTech and the AstraZeneca vaccines from many countries on effectiveness, on the prevention of not only severe disease, but also infection and transmission to contacts, but much less information on some of the other vaccines, which are also widely used. So, WHO is really promoting the idea of well-designed and well conducted vaccine effectiveness studies. And our regional offices are working with countries to try to promote that kind of data collection."
19. Wide shot, press briefing room

STORYLINE:

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said, “"We are in a very dangerous period of this pandemic,” and stressed that “no country on earth is out of the woods yet.”

At a press conference in Geneva today (02 Jul), Dr Tedros said “terrible scenes of hospitals overflowing are again becoming the norm” in countries with low vaccination coverage. He added that the Delta variant is “dangerous and is continuing to evolve and mutate,” which requires constant evaluation and careful adjustment of the public health response. He said, “Delta has been detected in at least 98 countries and is spreading quickly in countries with low and high vaccination coverage."

The WHO chief said some countries have launched so-called vaccine certificates and stressed the importance that these do not lead to “discrimination against those people and countries that have either a lack of vaccines or certain type of vaccine.” He said WHO issues Emergency Use Listings for vaccines based on a stringent assessment of safety and efficacy, “and we expect all countries to recognize and accept those vaccines that WHO has approved."

WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said there were reports showing that up to 10 months of a gap between the first and the second dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine still provided very good immunogenicity after the second dose and had resulted in high levels of neutralizing antibodies. She said, “It is very reassuring, I think, for people and for countries where there may be a delay in obtaining the second dose. We know there are supply constraints in many countries that received the first dose and have given the first dose to people do not have supplies for the second dose. COVAX is trying to address that. But in the meantime, it's reassuring that a longer gap beyond the eight to 12 weeks that is currently recommended by WHO is not going to pay a penalty for that. People will still mount a good immune response."

She said WHO was also tracking the effectiveness of vaccines against different variants that are circulating. She said one of the criteria that are used to define a variant of concern is if that variant has a “lower capacity for neutralisation by antibodies, either after natural infection or after vaccines.” She said information on this is “rather patchy, particularly for some of the vaccines that are being widely used."

She added, “So, we have a lot of information, for example, on the Pfizer BioNTech and the AstraZeneca vaccines from many countries on effectiveness, on the prevention of not only severe disease, but also infection and transmission to contacts, but much less information on some of the other vaccines, which are also widely used. So, WHO is really promoting the idea of well-designed and well conducted vaccine effectiveness studies. And our regional offices are working with countries to try to promote that kind of data collection."

Dr Joachim Hombach, Executive Secretary of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization, said there were many “so-called mix and match studies” of COVID-19 vaccines that are ongoing. However, he said, “What I don't think we can do is to provide a generic recommendation that you can mix and match in any way you want. This is product specific, and it is important that these data are being generated."

Turning to the two-day summit on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) hosted by WHO this week, Dr Tedros said the climate crisis, the severe impact of the pandemic on lives and livelihoods, vaccine inequity and the large burden of noncommunicable diseases were discussed and “concrete outcomes developed on how together we can tackle them."

The WHO chief said the summit, which included heads of state, heads of government, ministers and civil society leaders, focused on building “resilient health systems in the face of multiple threats.”

He said, “On an almost day-to-day basis, we are now seeing the impact of the climate crisis. Record breaking scorching heatwaves, catastrophic storms and changing weather patterns are impacting food systems, disease dispersion and societies at large. The time for lofty words is over, there needs to be concerted action, backed by financial resources to mitigate the consequences of climate change while we work to keep temperatures down and scale green innovations."

Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said one of the consequences of climate change is the “fact that more pathogens will be released and the likelihood of having future pandemics within a short period of time, maybe every several years, every decade, is likely.” He said this was one of the reasons to why “we have to prioritize the issue of climate change in order to protect the planet and at the same time, even to control or to reduce or eliminate, for that matter, the pandemics that may follow in the future."
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