In a news briefing on Wednesday May 13, the World Health Organization’s chief Dr. Michael Ryan said that the COVID-19 coronavirus may never go away.
Ryan warned that it may not go away as it is currently impossible to predict when the pandemic will come to an end.
According to Ryan, the number of people infected by the virus is still relatively low from a global perspective, and that the population could take years to build up an immune system that can combat the virus.
He also noted that novel diseases that have emerged before COVID-19 have remained, such as HIV. Ultimately, treatments for people with HIV have been developed so that those with the disease can live. This may be the case with COVID-19 if it becomes an endemic virus.
“I think it’s important to put this on the table… This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities,” said Ryan regarding the possibility we may have to continue living with the virus once the pandemic ends.
Ryan remains hopeful about the development of an effective vaccine but understands that the process of development and the amount needed for distribution will be challenging.
“Every single one of those steps is fraught with challenges.”
The WHO technical lead for COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, said that stopping the virus without medical intervention was a possibility, but acknowledges that some were in a “state of despair”
“The trajectory of this outbreak is in our hands… we have seen some countries bring the virus under control.”
The global effort to find a vaccine
The European Medicines Agency, the institution that oversees approved medication for the European Union has said that in an “optimistic scenario” a vaccine could be approved in about a year.
In order to find out the immunity one may have after recovering from COVID-19, antibody tests need to be conducted, which is what many countries around the world are approving as they move forward in finding a vaccine for the disease.
Britain has recently confirmed that they are in talks to buy antibody tests from the Swiss drug maker Roche Holding AG.
These talks are a result of Britain following the lead of the European Union and the United States, who have given preliminary approval to such tests.
The only thing that has remained unclear is the amount of orders that have been made by the other countries and when the tests would arrive.
Britain’s Junior Health Minister Edward Argar has said that they are moving fast when it comes to the talks with Roche Holding AG, but that exact date of when these tests would be available is not set.
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