WHO: Health body advised Ukraine ‘to destroy high threat pathogens’ to prevent outbreak

Ukraine: Doctor says ‘we are fighting for whole world’

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Since Russia invaded Ukraine over two weeks ago, the world has changed beyond recognition for the millions of Ukrainians either staying or fleeing the country. Towns, cities, airfields, hospitals, and almost every physical structure is a target for Russian armaments. This includes their health infrastructure. In the past week hospitals, wards, and pharmacies, have been struck and destroyed, making it nearly impossible for those who remain to get the medicines they need.

Now it appears action may have been taken before the conflict began to stop another potential disaster unfolding.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) has said it: “Strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine and other responsible bodies to destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills”.

Neither the Ukrainian government nor the WHO have said when this request was issued, but one theory is that it was sent before the war began.

However, since the full facts are not in the public domain, there is uncertainty over the timing of the request.

Furthermore, while there is uncertainty over when the request was sent, there is also uncertainty over whether it was carried out.

In a statement the WHO said it encouraged all parties to cooperate in the: “safe and secure disposal of any pathogens they come across, and to reach out for technical assistance as needed”.

The reason for this callout was because of the danger of a pathogen leaking out of a lab and spreading among the population and subsequently across Europe.

With regard to Covid-19, there has been speculation over whether the virus originated in a laboratory and was accidentally leaked.

However, as with this development in Ukraine, there is no agreed set of facts and therefore judgement is not possible at this time.

Covid-19 may have fallen out of the news spotlight due to the conflict, but it is incredibly relevant.

In recent days a new variant of concern has been identified.

Known as Deltacron, it is a recombinant variant combining elements of Delta and Omicron.

Due to the nature of these two variants, there was concern that Deltacron would spread as fast as Omicron and cause the same level of severe illness as Delta.

However, it appears there could be little to worry about with regard to Deltacron.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast Dr Chris Smith and Professor Jane Bauld said that while a new variant was concerning, it did not appear to evade vaccines in the same way Omicron originally did.

As it spread through Europe at the end of last year, two doses of vaccine were found to provide inadequate protection against Omicron.

While this was concerning, it was soon discovered three doses substantially increased protection.

As a result, the booster programme was expanded, and millions of Britons came forward for their third dose.

In recent weeks there have been questions over whether a fourth jab will be necessary, but doctors are divided on the matter.

More information on the latest Covid guidance is available on the NHS website.

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