World Health Organization chief: All African countries now have coronavirus lab testing capacity

World Health Organisation says worldwide COVID-19 cases to reach ten million by next week

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Developing a vaccine against Covid-19 is now the most pressing challenge the world faces, and such an enterprise may require funding of up to $18.1 billion to deliver two billion doses by the end of 2021, World Health Organization chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday.

Tedros also told a news briefing he backed Saudi Arabia's decision to ban pilgrims from overseas from attending the annual Haj pilgrimage to help limit the spread of the virus.

He said several reports indicate the vital role of oxygen in treating patients with severe and critical Covid-19.

Entos has received a $4.2 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Research Nova Scotia, and the Institute for Ageing for future research to develop the Covigenix vaccine candidates through clinical trials.

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President Trump even stated this week the virus was "fading away", despite clear evidence the number of cases is on the rise . While some of the increase is down to increased testing, the rate of positive tests in some areas is also increasing.

"It's clear that to bring COVID-19 under control, and to save lives, we need effective vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics-in unprecedented quantities and at unprecedented speed", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

In a virtual media conference, Swaminathan stated that AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine candidate is the most advanced vaccine now in terms of development, she said.

"Patients with severe and critical Covid-19 can not get enough oxygen into their blood by breathing normally".

Medical oxygen is created by using concentrators which extract and purify oxygen from the air. "Demand is now outstripping supply".

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The head of the World Health Organization emergencies programme, Dr Mike Ryan, said many Latin American countries experienced a 25%-50% increase in cases in the past week.

Countries that choose to participate in the new vaccine project will be able to buy "shares" in what the World Health Organization has dubbed the COVAX facility. A further 170,000 concentrators, with a value of 100 million USA dollars, can be available over the next six months.

"The investment required is significant, but it pales in significance when compared to the cost of COVID-19", said the statement.

The hajj is one of the world's largest mass gatherings.

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