WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a vaccine against the virus was still at least a year away. However, the health boss said a vaccine could only protect against “the worst situation” of a pandemic, and that focus should remain on promoting public health solutions to stop the spread of the virus. He said: “This is a window of opportunity that should not be missed.” The announcement comes as the death toll climbed to 2,010 fatalities, with 75,203 confirmed cases worldwide.
The World Health Organisation convened a global research and innovation forum last week to mobilise international action in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Dr Ghebreyesus said: “Harnessing the power of science is critical for bringing this outbreak under control.
“There are questions we need answers to, and tools we need developed as quickly as possible.
“WHO is playing an important co-ordinating role by bringing the scientific community together to identify research priorities and accelerate progress.”
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8.00am update: Britons leaving cruise ship may not be able to join evacuation flight
The Foreign Office has confirmed that although the majority of passengers are permitted to leave the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, as its official quarantine comes to an end today, those who do so may not be able to board the UK evacuation flight which is planned for later this week.
A statement from the Foreign Office said: “We are planning an evacuation flight from Tokyo to the UK as soon as possible for Britons who are on the Diamond Princess. We hope the flight will be later this week, subject to permissions from the Japanese authorities.
“At 0700 local time on Wednesday, the Diamond Princess cruise operator and Japanese authorities allowed passengers to disembark from the cruise ship. However there is a chance that people who disembark will not be able to join the evacuation flight.
“We have the utmost concern for the affected Britons and strongly encourage them to register for the evacuation flight.”