The Covid-19 pandemic has tested the limits of healthcare systems across many countries and has caused serious damage to lives and economies around the world. From announcing the name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus to tracing and studying the origins of the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been active in the global effort against the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to official data from WHO, as on December 30, 2020, a total of 80,453,105 people have been infected with Covid-19 and 1,775,776 people have died due to the disease.
Companies like Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca have developed a potential Covid-19 vaccine candidate. However, the rampant spread of a new Covid-19 strain that emerged in the United Kingdom has again caused concerns among countries.
With more vaccine candidates emerging, here is a look back at some of the important scientific interventions by the WHO in the year ravaged by the pandemic –
Jan 9: WHO announced the spread of a new cluster of pneumonia patients in Wuhan, China and also said that the Chinese authorities have identified a new coronavirus as the possible pathogen.
February 11: The name for the new disease caused by the novel coronavirus was confirmed as Covid-19 by the WHO in accordance with the best practices for the naming of new human infectious diseases.
March 18: An international clinical trial named Solidarity was launched by WHO along with partner agencies intended to develop an effective drug for the disease. The trial involved 12,000 patients in 500 hospitals spread across 30 countries.
April 13: A pool of 130 scientists, funders and manufacturers from around the world, pledged to work with the WHO to speed up the process of finding a Covid-19 vaccine.
May 15: The WHO published a scientific brief about multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and adolescents temporally related to Covid-19.
June 17: Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) arm of the Solidarity trials were stopped by the WHO, citing medical evidence that the drug doesn’t reduce the mortality of Covid-19 patients who were already hospitalized.
July 1 & 2: More than 1000 researchers and scientists from various countries participated in the second Covid-19 summit of the WHO. The summit decided the treatment based on the different stages of the disease and also discussed criteria to further proceed with various vaccine candidates.
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July 9: Possible Covid-19 transmission modes such as physical contact, droplets and mother-to-child were given by the WHO in an updated scientific brief.
Aug 3: Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Progress Report was published by the WHO. Progress made in some key areas of global effort against the pandemic and the future challenges were discussed in the report.
Oct 15: Evidence based on interim results that repurposed drugs like remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon were ineffective against hospitalized Covid-19 patients was submitted.
(With inputs from WHO’s Covid-19 response timeline)