World Health Organization News Release:Director General's Statement and updates for October 16, 2020

Please find enclosed the link and main messages of the WHO Director-General's statement as well as the audio file from the COVID-19 media briefing on 16 October:

· Interim results from the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial now show that the other two drugs in the trial, remdesivir and interferon, have little or no effect in preventing death from COVID-19 or reducing time in hospital.

· For the moment, the corticosteroid dexamethasone is still the only therapeutic shown to be effective against COVID-19, for patients with severe disease.

· Although the number of deaths reported in Europe last week is much lower than in March, hospitalizations are increasing and many cities are reporting they will reach their intensive care bed capacity in the coming weeks.

· During this year’s southern hemisphere winter, the number of seasonal flu cases and deaths was less than usual because of the measures put in place to contain COVID-19. But we cannot assume the same will be true in the northern hemisphere flu season.

· Demand for influenza vaccines may outstrip supply in some countries. The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization has therefore recommended that, among the five risk groups, health workers and older adults are the highest priority groups for influenza vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another under-utilized tool is the use of antivirals to treat people with influenza. We encourage all countries to use all the tools at their disposal.

· Today is World Hypertension Day. To support countries to take action against cardiovascular diseases, WHO has developed the HEARTS package, which outlines the six key ingredients for addressing threats to heart health, including hypertension.


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