Premature, unrealistic to think COVID-19 pandemic will end by 2021

Lawrence Kim
March 3, 2021

Ryan said WHO's focus was on keeping virus transmission low to reduce the number of hospitalisations and deaths.

"I think 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", Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said at a press conference here on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Ryan said that vaccinating frontline health care workers and those most vulnerable to severe disease would "take the fear... out of the pandemic".

"If we're smart, we can finish with the hospitalisations and the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic" by the end of the year, he said at media briefing.

But Ryan warned against complacency, saying that nothing was guaranteed in an evolving epidemic.

Coronavirus cases have risen globally for the first time in seven weeks, bucking an unprecedented trend which had raised hopes the pandemic was finally abating. He described the increase as "disappointing", but said it wasn't surprising.

Health experts are working to understand why transmission has increased, he added, but it appears to be linked to the relaxation of public health measures and "people letting their guard down" while circulation remains widespread.

"We can't tell individual countries what to do", said Dr Bruce Aylward, a senior World Health Organization adviser. "Basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response".

He said 237 million doses will be allocated to 142 economies and countries participating in COVAX by the end of May.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday that the vaccine rollout has begun in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire under the COVAX Facility.

WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was "regrettable" that younger and healthier people in rich countries are being vaccinated before at-risk health workers in the developing world.

The final allocation breakdown for the first wave of Covax doses is to be released on Wednesday.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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