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Source: United Nations (Video News)

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “the festive season is a time to relax and to celebrate – but we must not relax our guard. Celebration can very quickly turn to mourning if we fail to take the right precautions. As you prepare to celebrate over the coming weeks, please consider your plans carefully. If you live in an area with high transmission, please take every precaution to keep yourself and others safe.”

Speaking to reporters today (11 Dec) WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove echoed Dr. Tedros, saying that “we really must be vigilant and we really must stay the course. Given the holidays that are coming up, it is a time when many people want to come together, but we really need to make very careful decisions about how we celebrate this year.”

Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s Chief Scientist said, “national regulatory authorities do have the mandate and the jurisdiction to make these assessments and decisions for use within their own countries.”

She continued, “every national regulatory authority has the authority and the mandate to do that but that’s limited to their own countries. Now, several countries rely on WHO’s pre-qualification service for vaccines and for drugs. And, that’s a service that WHO provides also for global procurement agencies like UNICEF and GAVI because it’s a stamp of quality, safety, efficacy and manufacturing quality. In the case of emergency use license of course, we base this assessment on limited amounts of data.”

WHO’s Mike Ryan said, “finding as many infected people in the community is very important but when you get a test and you test positive or negative on a certain day, it doesn’t mean you will test negative the next day or the next day.”

He continued, “doing more testing to find infected people, yes good. Relying on a single test to guide your behaviour in the coming days or who you can meet or what you can do is problematic because knowing your status today does not guarantee your status tomorrow.”

Kerkhove also said, “testing for testing’s sake must be linked to public health action. It must be linked to isolation of cases, clinical care of cases, contact tracing, supported quarantine of those contacts.”

She agreed with Ryan that “a test result gives you the result of that sample that was collected at the time of testing. You could become infected between the time that you took that test and the time you get that result back, which is why it’s really important that you not only get tested with a high quality either PCR test or an antigen-based test, but that you get that result back quickly.”

On vaccine, Dr Tedros reiterated, “sharing the vaccine and having the inoculation everywhere in all countries means faster recovery. And it’s in the interest of each and every country in the world, lives and livelihoods will get back to the new normal and we believe that’s what the world wants now.”