'Silver bullet' coronavirus treatment may never come, World Health Organisation warns

'Silver bullet' coronavirus treatment may never come, World Health Organisation warns

'Silver bullet' coronavirus treatment may never come, World Health Organisation warns

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A “silver bullet” treatment for coronavirus may never come, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

Director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said preventing virus outbreaks “comes down to the basics” of public health and disease control.

Speaking during a media briefing on Monday, he said: “We learn every day about this virus and I’m pleased that the world has made progress in identifying treatments that can help people with the most serious forms of Covid-19 recover.”

He continued: “A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection.

“However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.

“For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control.

“Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all.”

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The news comes as David Nabarro, one of the WHO’s special envoys on Covid-19, described a rapid test that can detect coronavirus within minutes as a “life-changer”.

A test that delivers results in minutes is essential in order to live with the virus, Mr Nabarro said, and the test may be available before the end of the year.

The current tests being used in the UK are PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, and while most people get their results within 24 hours, it can take up to 72 hours.

Mr Nabarro said lockdown is a “crude” way of dealing with the spread and more sophisticated measures are needed.

“The best way to deal with this virus is to identify people with the disease really quickly, and to isolate them, to find their contacts and isolate them, so interrupting transmission,” he said.

“And then breaking the chain of transfer from person to person, and then to break the clusters that build up, and to suppress outbreaks.

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“Now the only way you can do that is by knowing where the virus is. And the only way to know where the virus is, is to have a very rapid point-of-contact test that is reliable.”

He added: “A rapid test that is reliable, that can be used anywhere, is the absolute requirement now – it’s more important than just about anything else.”

The health expert said the test might be available in the next three months.

“Something like this might be available by Christmas,” he said.

“I’m trying super hard not to get into that kind of prediction, but it’s not an unreasonable proposition providing that the necessary funding is available.”

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