On Wednesday, the World Health Organization, delivering a piece of grim news said that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could become endemic like HIV and may never go away, adding that no one can predict when the virus will disappear.
In an online briefing, WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan said: “It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away."
“I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear,” he added. “I think there are no promises in this and there are no dates. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be.”
Ryan said that while the world had some control over how it dealt with the novel coronavirus, this would take a “massive effort” even if a vaccine was found -- something he described as a “massive moonshot”.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added: “The trajectory is in our hands, and it’s everybody’s business, and we should all contribute to stop this pandemic.”
According to Ryan, “very significant control” of the highly infectious virus was required to lower the assessment of risk, which he said remained high at the “national, regional and global levels”.
The deadly COVID-19, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, has so far infected more than 4 million people globally and killed over 291,000. The pandemic has pushed the world economy into a standstill with many countries ordering full or partial lockdowns.
Several countries who have eased lockdown restrictions considerably are fearing a second wave of the devastating virus.
“We need to get into the mindset that it is going to take some time to come out of this pandemic,” WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove told the briefing.