The numbers of the COVID-19 pandemic speak for themselves: it only took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100 000 detected, 11 days to reach 200 000 and only four days to reach the figure of 300 000 affected by SARS-CoV-2.
For Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, director of the World Health Organization (WHO), it is possible to change the course of events, but we must move on to attack the virus directly, not just defend ourselves.
"Asking people to stay home and other physical distancing measures are an important way to stop the spread of the virus and gain time, but they are defensive measures. In order to win, we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics: testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case, and tracking and quarantining every close contact," he claimed at the Geneva conference.
Protecting health workers
The shortage of personal protective equipment is one of the problems that need to be addressed. Health professionals need to be adequately protected because if they get sick, who is going to take care of the rest?
In that sense, the World Health Organisation considers it a priority to improve the protection of doctors and other health professionals. "Addressing the global shortage of these life-saving tools means tackling every part of the supply chain, from raw materials to the finished product," said Adhanom.
Watch out for untested drugs
The World Health Organization leader recalled that there is still no treatment that has been proven effective against the coronavirus COVID-19.
"It's impressive to see the level of energy that is now being directed toward research against COVID-19," he said, but he clarified that small, observational, non-randomized studies will not provide the answers that are needed.
"Using untested drugs without the right evidence could raise false hope and even do more harm than good and cause a shortage of essential drugs that are needed to treat other diseases," Tedros said.
Strength of rich countries needed
The G20, the twenty richest countries in the world, account for more than 80% of the world's Gross Domestic Product. In that sense, the most powerful nations have a responsibility towards the rest of the planet, and political commitment and coordination at a global level is required.
"This week, I will address the heads of state and government of the G20 countries. Among other issues, I will ask them to work together to increase production, avoid export bans and ensure fair distribution, as necessary," he said.
The poorest countries are likely to be the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. For example, it is estimated that the number of people living in poverty in Latin America could grow by 35 million because of coronavirus. The region's economy, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, will be impacted on several fronts: exports, tourism, supplies, product prices and investment.