The World Health Organisation has warned that a worse pandemic than COVID could be around the corner and that what we’ve seen so far in 2020 is “not necessarily the big one”.
With global lockdowns, international stripping of freedoms, and the decimation of small businesses and the economy on the whole, it is difficult to imagine how it could get any worse.
Yet the WHO is predicting that could very well be the case.
The head of the WHO emergencies program, Dr Mike Ryan, said during a media briefing that “this pandemic has been very severe … it has affected every corner of this planet. But this is not necessarily the big one.”
“This is a wake-up call. We are learning, now, how to do things better: science, logistics, training and governance, how to communicate better. But the planet is fragile,” Ryan added.
“We live in an increasingly complex global society. These threats will continue. If there is one thing we need to take from this pandemic, with all of the tragedy and loss, is we need to get our act together. We need to honour those we’ve lost by getting better at what we do every day,” he continued.
Ryan also stated that despite the vaccine, the virus is set to become endemic, and will never go away.
“The likely scenario is the virus will become another endemic virus that will remain somewhat of a threat,” Ryan said.
Professor David Heymann, the chair of the WHO’s strategic and technical advisory group for infectious hazards, added that “it appears the destiny of SARS-CoV-2 [Covid-19] is to become endemic, as have four other human coronaviruses, and that it will continue to mutate as it reproduces in human cells, especially in areas of more intense admission.”
Elsewhere during the briefing, WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said that the roll out of vaccines does not mean social distancing or mask wearing can go away.