The novel coronavirus could become endemic like HIV, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday. A UN health agency added that COVID-19 may never go away.
The virus originated in China last December, could be the new incurable disease like HIV. As the WHO experts warn, there is no accurate prognosis so far, what kind of COVID’s version and how long it would keep circulating.
Meanwhile, the WHO is calling for a “massive effort” to counter the coronavirus.
“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,” WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan told an online briefing.
Ryan reiterated that it is important WHO is realistic in its prognosis, however, anyone can predict when this infection will disappear. “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.
However, he said the world had some control over how it coped with the disease, although this would take a “massive effort” even if a vaccine was found — a prospect he described as a “massive moonshot”.
The anti-COVID vaccine could save lives
While the UN chief said he was looking at “various alternatives” made possible by digital technology, more than 100 potential vaccines are being developed. Several of them are in clinical trials, but experts have underscored the difficulties of finding vaccines that are effective against coronaviruses.
Mark Ryan noted that vaccines exist for other illnesses, such as measles, that have not been eliminated.
Antonio Guterres on Wednesday urged governments, civil society and health authorities to address mental health needs arising from the pandemic, the lockdowns in place to help slow the spread and the deaths of loved ones, warning that psychological suffering is increasing.
The nations around the world are struggling with the question of how to reopen their economies while still containing the virus.