WHO Holds Meeting on Fast-Tracking Vaccines and Treatments for New Coronavirus

TUESDAY, Feb. 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Fast-tracking promising tests, drugs and vaccines to help slow the outbreak of the new coronavirus is being discussed at a meeting of experts arranged by the World Health Organization.

More than 300 scientists were expected to take part remotely in the two-day meeting in Geneva, Switzerland that began Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

There are no licensed drugs or vaccines for the new coronavirus. Diagnostic tests have been developed, but there are no rapid tests.

The virus has infected more than 43,000 people and killed 1,007. The outbreak began in China, which has accounted for 99% of cases. Two dozen other countries have reported 393 cases of the virus, with one death in the Philippines, the Associated Press reported.

The epidemic is "very much an emergency" for China but also "one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world," said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the AP reported.

There is still a window of opportunity to halt the outbreak, he added.

There are many important, unanswered questions about the virus, including its origins, how it's spread between people and how best to treat infected patients, according to WHO.

"To defeat this outbreak, we need answers to all those questions and more," Tedros said.

It could be months or even years before any approved treatments or vaccines are developed, according to experts, the AP reported.

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