The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could become endemic like HIV, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, warning against any attempt to predict how long it would keep circulating and calling for a “massive effort” to counter it.
WHO officials said that it is hard to predict when the pandemic will be over, but countries should stay positive and collaborate closely.
“I think it’s 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,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, at a press conference in Geneva. “It is important that we be realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear.”
He believes that there is a “massive opportunity for the world” to turn “a tragic pandemic into a beacon of hope for the future,” urging the world to “work together to solve our problems through solidarity, through trust, through working together and through a multilateral system that can actually benefit mankind.”
“In some senses, we have control over that future, but it’s going to take a massive effort to do it,” he said, noting that “It’s going to need the political, the financial, the operational, the technical and the community support to be a success.”
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical lead at WHO, added that, despite people may be “in a state of feeling quite some despair,” we should remain positive and hopeful.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added: “The trajectory is in our hands, and it’s everybody’s business, and we should all contribute to stop this pandemic.”