The World Health Organisation, WHO, says the first vaccine for coronavirus could be ready in 18 months.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said this at a press conference on Tuesday.
He said the official name for the disease strain caused by the new coronavirus is COVID-19. He said the name was coined from “CORONAVIRUS, DISEASE and “2019”, the year the strain was first discovered.
He added that a new name had to be coined to avoid stigmatisation.
“We now have a name the disease and it’s COVID-19 ,” Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.
“We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease.
“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.
“As of 6am Geneva time this morning, there were 42,708 confirmed cases reported in China, and tragically we have now surpassed 1000 deaths – 1017 people in China have lost their lives to this virus. Most of the cases and most of the deaths are in Hubei province, Wuhan.
“If the world doesn’t want to wake up and consider the virus as public enemy number one, I don’t think we will learn from our lessons.
“We are still in containment strategy and should not allow the virus to have a space to have local transmission.
“The development of vaccines and therapeutics is one important part of the research agenda – but it is only one part. They will take time to develop, but in the meantime, we are not defenceless. There are many basic public health interventions that are available to us now, and which can prevent infections now.
“The first vaccine could be ready in 18 months, so we have to do everything today using the available weapons to fight this virus, while preparing for the long-term.
“We’ve sent supplies to countries to diagnose and treat patients and protect health workers.”
‘More powerful’ than a terrorist attack
The virus has killed more than 2,005 people, infected over 73,000 and reached some 25 countries, with the WHO declaring a global health emergency.
Addressing scientists at the first international conference on combating the virus earlier on Tuesday, Tedros warned that the virus was a “very grave threat”.
“Viruses can have more powerful consequences than any terrorist action,” he told reporters later.
About 400 scientists were taking part in the two-day international meeting in Geneva called to review how the virus is transmitted and possible vaccines against it.
“We are not defenceless,” Tedros said, adding: “If we invest now… we have a realistic chance of stopping this outbreak.”
Participants will also discuss the source of the virus, which is thought to have originated in bats and reached humans via other “intermediary” species such as snakes or pangolins.
WHO sent an advance team to China this week for an international mission to examine the epidemic.
It was unclear, however, whether the team would be able to visit Wuhan, a city in central China which has been under lockdown after the outbreak was registered in a food and live animal market in the city.
Additional repotts by MSN News