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Dr. Tom Frieden on the World Health Organization’s Declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern

Today the World Health Organization announced a public health emergency of international concern related to the novel coronavirus (2019 nCov).

Statement from Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies

“The declaration of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) is warranted and matches the situation on the ground. The PHEIC will allow WHO to go beyond the sound technical information they have distributed to date, and allow them to further lean into the role of global leadership for governments and the private sector. WHO’s leadership will help us address the major gap in combatting novel coronavirus: detailed epidemiology that allows us to better understand how it is spreading, the range of illness it causes, who is most susceptible to severe illness and death, its mortality rate, and the best ways to limit or stop spread. With China’s invitation for an expert team to join its efforts, the key will be to ensure investigations are rapid and findings are quickly disseminated.

Some of the things China and the world will benefit from understanding better include:

  • How many people have been tested and what proportion are positive in different age, sex, geographic, and risk groups in different time periods?
  • What is the range of illness among infected people and what proportion are symptomatic?
  • Has there been spread in hospitals and under what circumstances?
  • How often do people without symptoms spread the virus to others?
  • In sentinel healthcare facilities, what proportion of patients with and without respiratory symptoms test positive for the virus.

Resolve to Save Lives will continue to keep a close watch on the outbreak, working with countries in Africa and elsewhere on preparedness, and offering assistance in China.”

Media Contact:

Erin Sykes, Resolve to Save Lives: esykes@resolvetosavelives.org; +1.646.612.0001

Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies: choneysett@vitalstrategies.org; +1.914.424.3356

Dr. Tom Frieden (www.DrTomFrieden.net) is former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and former commissioner of the New York City Health Department. He is currently president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a global non-profit initiative of Vital Strategies, working with countries to prevent 100 million deaths and make the world safer from epidemics. Twitter @DrTomFrieden, Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium

Resolve to Save Lives is a five-year, $225 million initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gates Philanthropy Partners, which is funded with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and housed at Vital Strategies. To find out more visit: https://www.resolvetosavelives.org or Twitter @ResolveTSL

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.