New coronavirus may 'never go away', WHO warns

New coronavirus may 'never go away', WHO warns
Credit: Belga

The new coronavirus may "never go away," the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on Wednesday.

It is very difficult to say when the new coronavirus (Covid-19) could be defeated, said WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan at a virtual press conference. 

"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," Ryan said.

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More than 100 projects are in the running around the world and about 10 clinical trials are underway. 

While the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Thursday that in an "optimistic" scenario, a vaccine could be available in a year's time, the United States accused China of spying on its researchers in an attempt to steal their work.

The French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, for its part, announced that it would prioritise the United States when distributing a possible vaccine, because the American authorities have invested in the company's research. This advance could be a few days or a few weeks, said its managing director Paul Hudson. 

Such an eventuality was judged "unacceptable" on Thursday by the French Secretary of State for the Economy, Agnès Pannier-Runacher.

In the absence of a vaccine or cure, governments are forced to weigh out measures to curb the virus' spread against the need to revive their economies and allow their citizens to return to normal.

The virus has caused 287,399 deaths and infected 4,170,424 people since it first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, as of 13 March, according to the WHO.

Belgium has counted 8,903 coronavirus related deaths and 54,288 confirmed cases as of 14 March.

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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