WHO enlists more COVAX participants, clears 2nd rapid test

Oct. 5, 2020

At a World Health Organization (WHO) media briefing officials announced more progress with the COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access) initiative and rapid testing, according to a news report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

In other developments, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it is looking into reports of kidney injury in people taking remdesivir, an experimental treatment for COVID-19, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced the launch of a new centralized lab network to do head-to-head evaluations of COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

The global COVID-19 total is growing by about 2 million cases each week, and the world is at another critical moment in its response, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said. However, he noted that countries are in four different situations, which range from intense transmission to holding steady with few cases after avoiding large earlier outbreaks.

Also, he said 168 countries have now joined the COVAX Facility, a WHO-led effort to pool the risk of supporting vaccine development and for securing doses equitably for countries across all income levels. Tedros added that 25 more countries have said they will join the initiative soon.

In another development, Tedros said the WHO has just approved a second rapid antigen test. WHO records show that the second rapid test cleared for emergency use listing is the Panbio rapid test made by Abbott. On September 22, it approved the first rapid test, produced by SD Biosensor. Earlier this week, the WHO announced a massive effort to supply low- and middle-income countries with 120 million rapid tests made by the two companies over the next six months.

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