Coronavirus: WHO Chief says ‘We hope this pandemic will be over in two years’

WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says a vaccine “won’t end the pandemic on its own” and that individuals will need to take responsibility.

The head of the World Health Organisation says he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be over in two years. “The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 took two years to end, the length of the global Spanish flu outbreak in the years after the First World War was a good comparison”

“Our situation now with more technology, of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading, it can move fast,” he said. “At the same time, we have the technology and knowledge to stop it.”

Close to a million people have died since the start of the outbreak at the end of last year, while about 22 million people are confirmed to have been infected with the virus, however, many scientists say the figure is much higher as the number of people tested still needs to be dramatically increased.

There are some countries, like South Korea and Vietnam, for example, who have had some success in keeping COVID-19 largely at bay through a combination of extensive testing, contact tracing and lockdown measures. North Korea reported its first cases a few weeks ago but many believe there are more cases as the country has a history of being secretive about information being released to the media- most news about North Korea comes from its neighbour South Korea.

But Mr Ghebreyesus warned that “progress does not mean victory” pointing out that some countries like New Zealand appeared to have conquered the virus before a fresh outbreak struck. He said: “These countries are a cautionary tale for those that are now seeing a downward trend in cases.”

The truth about vaccines

The declaration that a vaccine has been shown safe and effective will be a beginning, not the end. Distributing the vaccine to the population of the United States and around the world will surely test and strain distribution networks, the supply chain, public trust and global cooperation. It will take months or, more likely, years to reach enough people to make the world safe. However, if nothing else, it will give people one thing they are yearning for, hope. TW

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Written by

Tony Winterburn

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