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Global COVID-19 cases surpass 500,000, vaccine at least 12-18 months away: WHO

(Xinhua)    10:08, March 28, 2020

Photo taken on March 24, 2020 shows beds at Espacio Riesco Convention Center in Santiago, capital of Chile.(Xinhua)

Noting that a COVID-19 vaccine is still at least 12 to 18 months away, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed an urgent need for therapeutics to treat patients and save lives.

GENEVA, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has surpassed half a million with more than 20,000 deaths, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday, calling them "tragic numbers."

The situation dashboard by WHO showed a total of 509,164 coronavirus cases have been reported globally as of 10:00 CET Friday, as the virus spread to more than 200 countries and regions.

A healthcare worker takes a sample from a driver to test for possible COVID-19 infection at a drive-through test station in Iserlohn, Germany, on March 26, 2020.(Photo by Joachim Bywaletz/Xinhua)

The global death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 23,335.

Noting that a COVID-19 vaccine is still at least 12 to 18 months away, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed an urgent need for therapeutics to treat patients and save lives.

Speaking of the "Solidarity Trial," a multi-country clinical study for potential treatments for COVID-19, Tedros said it is a historic trial that will dramatically cut the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs work.

Romanian soldiers set up a military hospital for possible victims of COVID-19 epidemic in Otopeni, near Bucharest, Romania, March 19, 2020.(Photo by Cristian Cristel/Xinhua)

Tedros announced that the first batch of patients in Norway and Spain will be shortly enrolled in the clinical study, which compares the safety and effectiveness of four different drugs or drug combinations against the epidemic.

"The more countries who join the trial, the faster we will have results," Tedros said, noting more than 45 countries and regions are contributing to the trial while more have expressed interest.

A police car runs past Buckingham Palace in London, Britain on March 26, 2020.(Photo by Ray Tang/Xinhua)

Tedros, meanwhile, called on individuals and countries to refrain from using therapeutics that have not been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19.

Photo taken on March 23, 2020 shows an Irish navy ship being transformed into a COVID-19 testing centre in Dublin, Ireland.(Xinhua)

"As the pandemic evolves and more countries are affected, we are learning more and more lessons about what works and what doesn't," Tedros said.

He underlined the necessity to follow the evidence, saying that there are no short-cuts.

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(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Bianji)

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