Virus could become untreatable by vaccines
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged countries to act together against the coronavirus pandemic with global leaders saying if virus spreads through third world countries it could become untreatable.
Secretary-general of the United Nations Antonio Guterres warned in a teleconference with WHO that allowing the deadly virus to spread could see it mutate so vaccines "wouldn't be able to stop it".
Mr Guterres said it was in the interest of all nations to act quickly to control the spread of the virus, which has now infected more than 464,000 people worldwide. He said there was a global risk of a rampant spread of coronavirus in developing countries, where it could mutate and become resistant to vaccine technology.
"The worst thing that could happen is to suppress the disease in the developed countries, but let it spread like fire in the developing world, where then millions of transmissions will take place," Mr Guterres said in the teleconference.
"The virus could come back in ways that even vaccines, that I hope will be soon developed, wouldn't be able to stop it again.
"It's in the self-interests of developed countries to support the developing world in fighting."
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned in the conference that lifting the harsh lockdowns being imposed around the world prematurely could have disastrous consequences. He said freeing up movement too early could lead to swift reversals as the virus begins to recirculate in the community.
Dr Tedros said continued lockdowns are the key to controlling the virus and give countries a "second window of opportunity" to tackle outbreaks.
"These measures are the best way to suppress and stop transmission so that when restrictions are lifted, the coronavirus doesn't resurge," he said.
"The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses, only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence."
COVID-19 has now spread to more than 464,000 people worldwide with the death toll climbing past 21,000, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.
Originally published as Virus could become untreatable by vaccines