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1 Apr 2020

Belarus to contribute to WHO global surveillance for COVID-19

Belarus to contribute to WHO global surveillance for COVID-19
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MINSK, 1 April (BelTA) – Belarus has plans to take part in WHO global surveillance of the coronavirus disease, Belarus’ Deputy Healthcare Minister Yelena Bogdan said in an interview with the Belarus 1 TV channel, BelTA has learned.

“On Friday [3 April] we will have a teleconference with the organizers in order to understand how we can help and how we can benefit from participation in this clinical surveillance,” Yelena Bogdan said.

She explained that this is not about clinical trials of new medicines. WHO is gathering the latest findings and knowledge on coronavirus disease and treatment methods used by participating countries in order to develop treatment protocols.

Speaking about medicines used in Belarus, Yelena Bogdan noted that there are medications that help ease symptoms and prevent irreversible complications. These medications are included in treatment protocols and are recommended by foreign experts. These are medicines used to treat HIV and malaria and they produce rather good results. Some patients respond well to rheumatoid arthritis drugs.

The deputy minister also commented on media reports alleging that BCG vaccine could provide protection against COVID-19. According to reports, people who got this vaccine do not contract the infection. Some reports say that the BCG vaccine can reduce disease in those infected. According to Yelena Bogdan, the Healthcare Ministry has not received any clinical recommendations regarding it from WHO. Meanwhile, 97-98% of the country’s population (up to 99% in some regions) received the TB vaccination. This vaccination is part of the national immunization program in Belarus.

The Belarusian Healthcare Ministry would like to check whether a flu shot can reduce the risk of getting sick with the coronavirus. However, a small number of coronavirus patients in the country does not allow it as the  sample size is not adequate. Such a survey makes more sense in the countries with more reported cases. “Maybe, WHO will suggest discussing this matter as part of clinical surveillance and we will provide our data to be analyzed on a greater scale,” the deputy minister noted.

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