World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced a new goal. The UN health body intends to end the COVID-19 outbreak within two years of its first emergence in China late last year.
In his speech, the WHO boss has compared the current corona epidemic with the Spanish flu of 1918. That time, it took two years to overcome the consequences of the infection, Ghebreyesus said and added that the modern advances in technology could enable the world to halt the virus “in a shorter time”.
Surely, when the infection is not under control, it jumps straight back up. Commenting on the WHO’s efforts, the official stressed ‘with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading’.
“But at the same time, we have also the technology to stop it, and the knowledge to stop it,” he noted, stressing the importance of “national unity, global solidarity,” Ghebreyesus added.
Compared with back then, the world today is at a disadvantage due to its “globalisation, closeness, connectedness”, which has allowed the novel pathogen to spread around the world at lightning speed, the top health official acknowledged.
COVID-19 will have at least three waves: WHO
In comparison with 1918, the modern doctors have an opportunity “utilising the available tools to the maximum and hoping that we can have additional tools like vaccines, I think we can finish it in a shorter time than the 1918 flu”.
While COVID infected more than 22.75 million people around the globe, the deadliest pandemic of Spanish flu infected nearly 500 million. Five times more people died of it than did in the first world war. In 1918, a pandemic came in three waves, with the deadliest second wave beginning in the latter half of 1918.
“It took three waves for the disease to infect most of the susceptible individuals,” WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan confirmed during the briefing.
After that, the flu virus behind the pandemic evolved into a far less deadly seasonal bug, which returned for decades.
“Very often, a pandemic virus settles into a seasonal pattern over time,” Ryan said, adding that so far, “this virus is not displaying a similar wave-like pattern”.