‘Unlikely’ coronavirus crisis will be over by end of year, WHO warns
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‘Unlikely’ coronavirus crisis will be over by end of year, WHO warns

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Based on the current situation, the world will probably not be rid of the coronavirus (Covid-19) by the end of 2021, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) physician and executive director of emergency services Dr Michael Ryan.

Ryan warned that the virus is still very much in control, despite increased vaccination rollouts and extended lockdowns globally when speaking at a press briefing in Geneva.

“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.

Across the world, including in Belgium, coronavirus infection and hospitalisation rates are on the rise again for the first time in two months.

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During the press briefing, the organisation highlighted that relaxations of coronavirus fighting measures, the further spread of new variants and virus fatigue are causing this increase in figures.

“This is disappointing, but not surprising,” the director-general of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said.

Vaccination campaigns targeting the most vulnerable people in society would help remove the “tragedy and fear” from the situation, and would help to ease pressure on hospitals, said Ryan.

“If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalisation, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic,” he added.

However, Tedros said countries across the world should not rely only on vaccines to tackle this virus, saying basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response.

The WHO also pointed to the positive news of vaccines being rolled out amongst medical personnel in poorer countries, such as the West African countries of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, but highlighted the delay in timing of this, saying it is “regrettable that this is happening almost three months after the start of vaccination campaigns in some of the richest countries.”

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times