Coronavirus vaccines expected in 18 months: WHO head

02/12/2020 12:31 PM
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WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo taken from twitter.com/WHO
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo taken from twitter.com/WHO

Brussels, Feb. 11 (CNA) The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that the first batch of vaccines against the novel coronavirus could be available in 18 months but that the world should be prepared for a long-term battle.

The epidemic hitting Chinese cities and spreading into many other countries around the world is "a very grave threat," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned while addressing the opening of a two-day closed-door WHO forum in Geneva.

The forum has gathered experts from around the world to seek resolutions to the global crisis.

Urging the world to share virus samples to accelerate the development of drugs and vaccines, Tedros said that with the first vaccine still an estimated 18 months away, "we have to do everything today using available weapons."

"Viruses can have more powerful consequences than any terrorist action," he said.

At a press event held later Tuesday, Tedros announced the novel coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, has been officially named COVID-19, with CO representing "corona," VI meaning "virus," and D meaning "disease."

The naming was made based on the principles upheld by the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization that such names must not be related to geographic positions, animal species, individuals or specific ethnic groups but must refer to diseases, according to Tedros.

(By Tang Pei-chun and Elizabeth Hsu)

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