Credit: WHO

2019 Novel Coronavirus now COVID-19

The 2019 novel Coronavirus now has an official name as COVID-19 to prevent stigmatizatiom, while the first vaccine could be ready in 18 months, said WHO

WHO Director-General Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced after the meeting with over 400 scientists in Geneva yesterday that the novel Coronavirus had been named as “COVID-19”.

“We now have a name for the disease: COVID-19. I’ll spell it: C-O-V-I-D hyphen one nine – COVID-19,” said Dr. Tedros during the press briefing.

Dr. Tedros said of the reason behind the name that under the agreed guidelines between WHO, the World Organisation for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the organisations concerned had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people.

It should also be pronounceable and related to the disease, Dr. Tedros added.

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or “stigmatizing”. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks,” said Dr. Tedros.

The official name of the virus has arrived as the world just witnessed the dealth tolls surpass 1,000.

As of 6am Geneva time yesterday, there were 42,708 confirmed cases reported in China, and 1017 deaths. Most of the cases and most of the deaths are in Hubei province, Wuhan, according to WHO chief.

Outside China, there are 393 cases in 24 countries, and 1 death, he added.

Dr. Tedros said the two-day meeting was not expected to yield immediate answers to every question, but an agreed roadmap on what questions needed to be asked,and how to go about answering those questions.

WHO chief said a research roadmap is also important for organizations that fund research to have a clear sense of what the public health priorities are, so they can make investments that deliver the biggest public health impact.

“This is exactly what WHO is for – bringing the world together to coordinate the response. That’s the essence of multilateralism, which is very important for the world,” said Dr. Tedros, adding the development of vaccines and therapeutics is one important part of the research agenda

Dr. Tedros revealed that the first vaccine could be ready in 18 months. However, along with other therapeutics, they will take time to develop.

He suggested the world community do everything using the available “weapons” to fight this virus, while preparing for the long-term.

“They will take time to develop, but in the meantime, we are not defenceless. There are many basic public health interventions that are available to us now, and which can prevent infections now,” said Dr. Tedros.

WHO has been in contact with concerned parties, engaging WHO’s network of country representatives, as well as the United Nations resident coordinators in countries, to brief them on the outbreak and inform them about the steps they can take.

WHO chief also said he had briefed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and they agreed to leverage the power of the entire UN system in the response.

WHO has also activated a UN Crisis Management Team, to be led by WHO chief’s general, Dr. Mike Ryan. This will help WHO focus on the health response, while the other agencies can bring their expertise to bear on the wider social, economic and developmental implications of the outbreak

“So, we are all working to our strengths,” said Dr. Tedros.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Public Health Ministry announced the increase of cases in the country to 33, as of yesterday, as one new case was added.

It has not yet allowed a cruise ship “Westerdam” from Japan to dock at any ports in Thailand either as part of the prevention measures against the disease.