WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE

13-Oct-2021 00:04:54
The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced the proposed members of the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, or SAGO. The group will advise WHO on the development of a global framework to define and guide studies into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens with epidemic and pandemic potential, including SARS-CoV-2. WHO
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STORY: WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE
TRT: 4:54
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 13 OCTOBER 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
FILE – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, WHO emblem outside headquarters

13 OCTOBER 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. Wide shot, press room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"The number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 continues to decline and is now at the lowest level in almost a year. But it’s still an unacceptably high level – almost 50,000 deaths a week, and the real number is certainly higher. Deaths are declining in every region except Europe, where several countries are facing fresh waves of cases and deaths."
4. Wide shot, press room
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"Following a public call for experts, WHO today announced the proposed members of the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, or SAGO. The 26 experts were selected from over 700 applications and were chosen for their world-class expertise and experience in a range of disciplines, as well as their geographic and gender diversity. SAGO will advise WHO on the development of a global framework to define and guide studies into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens with epidemic and pandemic potential, including SARS-CoV-2."
6. Wide shot, press room
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical Lead, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
"And what we need this group (SAGO) to do is to urgently assess where are we in what we know and what we don't know and what urgently needs to be done. Following the last mission to China, there were more than three dozen recommended studies that needed to be carried out. We hope to get an update on those studies as well so that we can say, ‘OK, here’s what's next.’ So, this advisory group will provide advice to WHO on those urgent next steps and then WHO will work with any member state, including China, to carry out what needs to be done."
8. Wide shot, press room
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical Lead, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
"But I want to make it very clear that the SAGO is not the next mission team. There's been some misrepresentation about that going forward. It's an advisory group to WHO. Of course, they're going to make recommendations on missions that will be needed. And also remember that the SAGOis not just for the current pandemic, but for future pandemics or future outbreaks, future emergence as well. And so, I would expect that this group would make recommendations for field studies that are necessary to be carried out."
10. Wide shot, press room
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"After 11 months of conflict, the humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia is growing worse by the day. Up to seven million people are in urgent need of food and other aid across Tigray, Amhara and Afar. Tigray, with an estimated population of six million people, has now been under a de-facto blockade for almost a year. Humanitarian aid is not arriving at anywhere close to the levels needed, and basic services remain cut off, including electricity, banking and telecommunications. The spread of the conflict into Amhara and Afar is further increasing needs and complicating response efforts. In Tigray, more than 90 percent of the six million population needs food aid, and an estimated 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, based on the latest UN analysis."
12. Wide shot, press room
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"The conflict has devastated Tigray’s healthcare system and no supplies of medicine have been allowed into the region since July. Just a fraction of health facilities in Tigray remain operational due to a lack of fuel and supplies. People with chronic illnesses are dying due to lack of both food and medicine. Nearly 200,000 children have gone without critical vaccinations. When people do not have enough food, they are more susceptible to deadly diseases, as well as the threat of starvation and that's what we're now seeing in Tigray."
14. Wide shot, WHO on wall in press room
STORYLINE
The World Health Organization (WHO) today (13 Oct) announced the proposed members of the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, or SAGO. The group will advise WHO on the development of a global framework to define and guide studies into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens with epidemic and pandemic potential, including SARS-CoV-2.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva today (13 Oct), WHO chief Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said 26 experts were selected from over 700 applications, following a public call for experts, and were chosen for their “world-class expertise and experience in a range of disciplines, as well as their geographic and gender diversity.”

Dr Tedros said the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 continues to decline and is now at the “lowest level in almost a year.” However he said, “It’s still an unacceptably high level – almost 50,000 deaths a week, and the real number is certainly higher. Deaths are declining in every region except Europe, where several countries are facing fresh waves of cases and deaths."

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 Technical Lead, said SAGO must urgently assess “where are we in what we know and what we don't know and what urgently needs to be done.” She said, “Following the last mission to China, there were more than three dozen recommended studies that needed to be carried out. We hope to get an update on those studies as well so that we can say, ‘OK, here’s what's next.’ So, this advisory group will provide advice to WHO on those urgent next steps and then WHO will work with any member state, including China, to carry out what needs to be done."

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove stressed that SAGO is not the next “mission team.” She said there has been some misrepresentation about that, noting that it is indeed an advisory group to WHO. She said, “Of course, they're going to make recommendations on missions that will be needed. And also remember that the SAGOis not just for the current pandemic, but for future pandemics or future outbreaks, future emergence as well. And so, I would expect that this group would make recommendations for field studies that are necessary to be carried out."

Commenting on the situation in Ethiopia, Dr Tedros said, after 11 months of conflict, “the humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia is growing worse by the day.” Up to seven million people are in urgent need of food and other aid across Tigray, Amhara and Afar. He said Tigray, with an estimated population of six million people, “has now been under a de-facto blockade for almost a year.”

The WHO chief said, “Humanitarian aid is not arriving at anywhere close to the levels needed, and basic services remain cut off, including electricity, banking and telecommunications. The spread of the conflict into Amhara and Afar is further increasing needs and complicating response efforts. In Tigray, more than 90 percent of the six million population needs food aid, and an estimated 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, based on the latest UN analysis."

Dr Tedros said the conflict “has devastated Tigray’s healthcare system and no supplies of medicine have been allowed into the region since July.” He said just a fraction of health facilities in Tigray remaining operational due to a lack of fuel and supplies, and “people with chronic illnesses are dying due to lack of both food and medicine.” He added that nearly 200,000 children have gone without critical vaccinations.

The WHO Director-General said, when people do not have enough food, “they are more susceptible to deadly diseases, as well as the threat of starvation and that's what we're now seeing in Tigray."
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