WHO / COVID-19 VACCINE AND TREATMENT

18-Jun-2020 00:04:06
WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said phase three of COVID-19 vaccine trials were underway, adding “I'm hopeful, I'm optimistic, but you know vaccine development is a complex undertaking.” WHO
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STORY: WHO / COVID-19 VACCINE AND TREATMENT
TRT: 4:06
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 18 JUNE 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
18 JUNE 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, WHO headquarters exterior
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization (WHO):
"So, what happened is that about ten days ago, the recovery trial actually looked at their data. They did an interim data analysis and their data safety monitoring board suggested that there is no benefit because they had enrolled enough numbers to be able to analyze hydroxychloroquine versus those who had standard of care. And they said that there was no benefit in mortality seen, which was the end point used."
3. Wide shot, WHO headquarters exterior
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization (WHO):
"What is clear now is hydroxychloroquine does not seem to have, or does not have we know for sure now, it does not have an impact on the disease course, on mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Where there is still a gap is: Does it have any role at all in prevention? Or in minimizing the severity of the illness in early infection? Or even in preventing infection? We don't know that as yet, and we need to complete those large trials and get the data so again, we have a definite answer on that."
5. Wide shot, WHO headquarters exterior
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization (WHO):
“As a global community, what do we want? We want clear answers to these questions. We want to know whether a drug reduces mortality or not. And if it doesn't, does it have any other beneficial effects, like reducing hospitalization or the need for ventilation? If those benefits are there, then we want patients to get it.
But if there aren't, we want everybody to know that there's no point in continuing. So we have the same situation with Lopinavir, Ritonovir now, which we'll be looking at and then deciding on whether we should change the other arms in the trial. But we will come to that later."
7. Wide shot, WHO headquarters exterior
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization (WHO):
"Currently we know that the Recovery Trial, which I said is very similar to the Solidarity Trial, is also enrolling patients to Lopinavir, Ritonovir. So, between Solidarity and Recovery, we've already enrolled about, I think over 3,000 patients into the Lopinavir, Ritonovir arm and a similar number into standard of care. So, this is already a huge number and should be enough to tell us whether this drug is actually having a mortality benefit or a benefit in reducing the severity of the illness."
9. Close up, entrance to WHO headquarters
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization (WHO):
"So, we're entering a new phase now of vaccine trials, the phase 3 trials, which are the ones that will definitively prove whether a vaccine is efficacious and safe. I'm hopeful, I'm optimistic, but you know vaccine development is a complex undertaking. It comes with a lot of uncertainty. The good thing is we have many different vaccine candidates and platforms. So even if the first one fails or the second fails, we shouldn't lose hope. We shouldn't give up."
11. Med shot, entrance to WHO headquarters
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization (WHO):
"So, WHO is working on a fair allocation mechanism, which we're discussing with our member states to see can countries all come to an agreement on how you share a limited supply of vaccine. Let's say you have fifty or a hundred million doses at the end of this year. Okay. How should the world share that? Should it go only to the countries which have paid for it or are capable of paying for it, to cover their own populations? Or should it go to protect frontline health workers or the most vulnerable people, whether they are the elderly or whether there are people with other diseases and certainly frontline workers, health workers, but also other kinds of first responders are at the highest risk as we've seen, unfortunately."
13. Wide shot, WHO headquarters exterior
STORYLINE
WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said phase three of COVID-19 vaccine trials were underway, adding “I'm hopeful, I'm optimistic, but you know vaccine development is a complex undertaking.”

Swaminathan said phase 3 is the phase which will “definitively prove whether a vaccine is efficacious and safe.” She said vaccine development comes with a lot of uncertainty and added, “The good thing is we have many different vaccine candidates and platforms. So even if the first one fails or the second fails, we shouldn't lose hope. We shouldn't give up."

The Chief Scientist said WHO was working on a “fair allocation mechanism” and noted that discussions were underway with countries on how to share a limited supply of vaccine. She explained, “Let's say you have fifty or a hundred million doses at the end of this year. Okay. How should the world share that? Should it go only to the countries which have paid for it or are capable of paying for it, to cover their own populations? Or should it go to protect frontline health workers or the most vulnerable people, whether they are the elderly or whether there are people with other diseases and certainly frontline workers, health workers, but also other kinds of first responders are at the highest risk as we've seen, unfortunately."

Swaminathan said data analysis by the recovery trial safety monitoring board found that there is no benefit in the use of hydroxychloroquine on mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. She added, “Where there is still a gap is: Does it have any role at all in prevention? Or in minimizing the severity of the illness in early infection? Or even in preventing infection? We don't know that as yet, and we need to complete those large trials and get the data so again, we have a definite answer on that."

The Chief Scientist said the global community want to know if a drug reduces mortality or not to determine whether or not to use it. She said there is a similar situation now with Lopinavir, Ritonovir now which is currently being studied. She said there were some 3,000 patients in the Lopinavir, Ritonovir arm and a similar number in the standard of care arm of the trial; “so, this is already a huge number and should be enough to tell us whether this drug is actually having a mortality benefit or a benefit in reducing the severity of the illness."
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