News ‘Premature and unrealistic’: WHO says end to pandemic unlikely this year
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‘Premature and unrealistic’: WHO says end to pandemic unlikely this year

Dr Michael Ryan, with WHO chief Dr Tedros in February 2020, says the pandemic will not end in 2021. Photo: AP
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The World Health Organisation believes it is unlikely the coronavirus pandemic will come to an end in coming months.

“I think it will be very premature and unrealistic to think that we are going to finish with this virus by the end of the year,” Dr Michael Ryan, director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said at a briefing on Tuesday.

“What we can, if we are smart, finish with is the hospitalisations and the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic.”

The WHO’s focus at present was to keep transmissions as low as possible and vaccinate more and more people.

The situation regarding the delivery of vaccine doses had already improved compared to 10 weeks ago, Dr Ryan said, although there were “huge challenges” in distributing them and the virus still had the upper hand.

“If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalisation, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate towards controlling this pandemic,” Dr Ryan said.