Coronavirus may “never go away,” WHO official says


WHO health emergencies program director Michael Ryan speaks during a coronavirus news briefing in Geneva on March 11. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The novel coronavirus may never go away and may just join the mix of viruses that kill people around the world every year, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization health emergencies program, said Wednesday.

“This virus just may become another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away. HIV hasn’t gone away,” Ryan said.

“I’m not comparing the two diseases but I think it is important that we’re realistic. I don’t think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear,” Ryan added.

With a vaccine, “we may have a shot at eliminating this virus but that vaccine will have to be available, it will have to be highly effective, it will have to be made available to everyone and we’ll have to use it,” Ryan said. “This disease may settle into a long-term problem or it may not be.”

Yet the future of coronavirus does not have to be all doom and gloom, according to WHO infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove.

“The trajectory of this outbreak is in our hands,” Van Kerkhove said during Wednesday’s briefing.

“The global community has come together to work in solidarity,” Van Kerkhove said. “We have seen countries bring this virus under control. We have seen countries use public health measures.”

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus echoed Van Kerkhove’s sentiments on Wednesday and added, “We should all contribute to stop this pandemic.”



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