World won’t vanquish virus this year, says WHO

It is unrealistic to think that the world will be done with the COVID-19 pandemic by the end of the year, the WHO says.

The World Health Organization’s emergencies director Michael Ryan says it might be possible to take the sting of tragedy out of the coronavirus crisis by reducing hospitalizations and deaths.

But the virus remains very much in control, he adds, especially given that global new case numbers increased this week after seven consecutive weeks of decline.

“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 tells journalists.

A healthcare worker inoculates an 84-year-old in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

“But I think what we can finish with, if we’re smart, is the hospitalizations, the deaths, and the tragedy associated with this pandemic.”

Ryan says the WHO’s focus is on keeping virus transmission low, to help prevent the emergence of variants, but also to reduce the numbers of people who get sick.

He also says vaccinating front-line health care workers and those most vulnerable to severe disease would “take the fear and the tragedy out of the pandemic.”