Thursday, December 31, 2020

WHO Says Bigger Pandemic Than COVID Is Coming


World Health Organization experts have warned that even though the coronavirus pandemic has been very severe, it is “not necessarily the big one”, and that the world will have to learn to live with Covid-19.

The “destiny” of the virus is to become endemic, even as vaccines begin to be rolled out in the US and UK, says Professor David Heymann, the chair of the WHO’s strategic and technical advisory group for infectious hazards.

“The world has hoped for herd immunity, that somehow transmission would be decreased if enough persons were immune,” he told the WHO’s final media briefing for 2020.
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But Heymann, who is also an epidemiologist with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the concept of herd immunity was misunderstood.

“It appears the destiny of SARS-CoV-2 [Covid-19] is to become endemic, as have four other human coronaviruses, and that it will continue to mutate as it reproduces in human cells, especially in areas of more intense admission.

The head of the WHO emergencies program, Dr Mike Ryan, said: “The likely scenario is the virus will become another endemic virus that will remain somewhat of a threat, but a very low-level threat in the context of an effective global vaccination program.

Ryan warned that the next pandemic may be more severe. “This pandemic has been very severe … it has affected every corner of this planet. But this is not necessarily the big one,” he said.

“This is a wake-up call. We are learning, now, how to do things better: science, logistics, training and governance, how to communicate better. But the planet is fragile.

“We live in an increasingly complex global society. These threats will continue. If there is one thing we need to take from this pandemic, with all of the tragedy and loss, is we need to get our act together. We need to honour those we’ve lost by getting better at what we do every day.”

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