There may never be a ‘silver bullet’ for treating Covid-19, according to the head of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Countries around the world are locked in a race against time to test and produce a safe and effective vaccine for the coronavirus.
But Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the UN agency, said today that scientists may never find one that works.
He said for now, stopping outbreaks ‘comes down to the basics’, urging nations to continue with test, trace and isolate schemes.
It comes as the WHO’s top epidemiologist today said the infection kills 0.6 percent of all patients — making it six times deadlier than seasonal flu.
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove admitted the estimate ‘may not sound like a lot but it is quite high’, killing one in 167 people.
Official statistics show the pandemic already killed almost 700,000 people since it began in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December.
But the estimated mortality rate suggests 115million people worldwide have had the virus — nearly seven times more than the current figure of 17.6m.
Researchers are hopeful a potential vaccine will be proven to work, allowing it to be administered to the global population.
Russia’s health minister announced at the weekend that the country is planning a mass vaccination campaign for October.
Dr Tedros noted a number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials — the last stage of human testing.
The forerunners include Oxford University, which is still confident it could have some form of vaccine by the end of this year, and US-based firm Moderna.
But experts have repeatedly dampened expectations, warning that it won’t be until 2021 at the earliest that a jab could be ready.
In a media briefing today, Dr Tedros asked recommended countries participate in relevant clinical trials, and prepare for ‘vaccine introduction’.
He said: ‘We learn every day about this virus and I’m pleased that the world has made progress in identifying treatments that can help people with the most serious forms of Covid-19 recover.