The World Health Organization has warned that it’s “unrealistic” to expect the COVID-19 pandemic to end this year.
Dr. Michael Ryan, director of WHO’s emergencies program, said the focus should remain on keeping transmission levels as low as possible, though it’s unlikely that the virus will be eradicated this year.
“I think it will be very premature and I think unrealistic to think that we’re going to finish with this virus by the end of the year,” Ryan said Monday at a briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.
“If we’re smart, we can finish with the hospitalizations and the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic.”
Ryan, however, said the organization is encouraged by data indicating that COVID-19 vaccines have helped slow the spread of the virus.
“If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalization, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic,” he said.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, meanwhile, said it was “regrettable” that younger and healthier adults in some wealthier countries are receiving the vaccine before frontline workers in developing countries.
“Countries are not in a race with each other,” Tedros said. “This is a common race against the virus. We are not asking countries to put their own people at risk. We are asking all countries to be part of a global effort to suppress the virus everywhere.”
But the agency refrained from calling on the rich countries to donate their vaccine supply.
“We can’t tell individual countries what to do,” senior WHO adviser, Dr. Bruce Aylward, said.
With Post wires