The World Health Organization (WHO) officials provided an update on the COVID-19 vaccine trials and progress on Thursday as global cases topped 20 million, along with over 700,000 deaths.

WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the organization’s COVID-19 Accelerator tool has already shown results with 9 vaccine candidates currently going under phase 2 or 3 trials for approval.

He added that WHO’s COVAX global vaccine facility portfolio is consistently expanding with more contributions from around the world.

The WHO is preparing to launch a new vaccine initiative and countries that represent nearly 70 per cent of the global population have already signed up or showed interest in being part of it, Tedros added.

Officials including Dr. Mike Ryan and Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove from the organization’s emergency program responded to questions on the food chain safety after China announced that a frozen chicken wings shipment from Brazil had tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Van Kerkhove said that China has tested thousands of shipments and found less than 10 cases, adding that WHO has issued guidance on working safely with food packaging and reminding people that the virus can get activated once the hands are washed properly.

She added that there is no examples of people getting infected by consuming food products having the virus and that the virus can be killed once the meat is properly killed.

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