WHO sees 'potentially positive data' on COVID-19 treatments

Emma Farge, Reuters

Posted at May 12 2020 08:06 PM

A logo is pictured on the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) ahead of a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Geneva, Switzerland, January 30, 2020. Denis Balibouse, Reuters/File

GENEVA - The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that some treatments appear to be limiting the severity or length of the COVID-19 disease and said it was focusing on learning more about four or five of the most promising ones.

The Geneva-based WHO is leading a global initiative to develop safe and effective drugs, tests and vaccines to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19. The respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus has infected 4.19 million people around the world, according to a Reuters tally.

"We do have some treatments that seem to be in very early studies limiting the severity or the length of the illness but we do not have anything that can kill or stop the virus," spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a briefing, referring to the body's so-called Solidarity Trial of drugs against the disease.

"We do have potentially positive data coming out but we need to see more data to be 100% confident that we can say this treatment over that one," she added.

The WHO official sounded a note of caution around expectations for a vaccine, however, saying coronaviruses in general are "very tricky viruses" that are "difficult to produce vaccines against". More than 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines are being developed, including several in clinical trials.

The WHO said in April a vaccine would take at least 12 months.