WHO convening experts on drugs, vaccines to set coronavirus research agenda next week

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Drugmakers racing to find a vaccine or effective treatment for the deadly new coronavirus in China cautioned that they have a long way to go.
A multinational WHO-led team would go to China very soon to work with Chinese authorities in tackling the outbreak, said director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (REUTERS) - Hundreds of experts will meet in Geneva next Tuesday (Feb 11) and Wednesday to set research and development priorities for drugs, diagnostics and vaccines to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday.

"There are no proven effective therapeutics for novel coronavirus," Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO emergencies programme, told a news conference.

WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove said participants would include experts in clinical investigations and research into an animal source of the virus which emerged at a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

"We want to bring the best minds, people who have experience in this to come around a comprehensive research agenda around coronavirus," she said.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a multinational WHO-led team would go to China very soon to work with Chinese authorities in tackling the outbreak. He gave no details.

A total of 28,018 confirmed cases have been counted in China, including 563 deaths, Dr Tedros said. The past 24 hours have seen the most cases in a single day since the outbreak started.

The WHO-led mission may include experts from the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Some 20 agencies in the tourism and travel industry, including the International Air Transport Association, the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the UN's World Tourism Organisation as well as several airlines, also took part in a teleconference on Wednesday to discuss concerns, including protection of crews and passengers when flights to and from China resume, according to the WHO.

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