We can end COVID-19 under 2 years; WHO Chief expresses hope

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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WHO Director General
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking at a recent media briefing

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, current WHO Director-General is optimistic that with modern technology, the world may be free of the COVID-19 pandemic under 2 years.  

WHO Chief who had citied the pandemic as a “once-in-a-century” health crisis emphasized that even though the increased connectivity created by ‘globalization’ has allowed the virus new avenues to spread than the flu did during the influenza pandemic in 1918, there is also a technological advantage at hand that hadn’t been the case a century ago.

“We hope to finish this pandemic (in) less than two years, especially if we can pool our efforts,” he said, exuding confidence that it should be possible to tame the novel coronavirus faster than the deadly 1918 pandemic by “utilizing the available tools to the maximum,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said.

Some countries, like South Korea and Vietnam, have had some success in keeping the pandemic largely at bay through a combination of extensive testing, contact tracing and lockdown measures.

But Dr. Ghebreyesus warned that “progress does not mean victory” pointing out that some countries like New Zealand appeared to have conquered the virus before a fresh outbreak struck.

He said: “These countries are a cautionary tale for those that are now seeing a downward trend in cases.”

And while some countries are seeing progress towards a vaccine, the WHO boss reminded that it would not solve all problems related to the virus.

“We must all learn to control and manage this virus using the tools we have now, and to make the adjustments to our daily lives that are needed to keep ourselves and each other safe,” he added.

WHO officials also warned that more research needs to be done into coronavirus mutations, which can drastically change the severity of the symptoms a sufferer experiences.

Epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said: “A special working group has been formed to identify mutations… and we’re looking at how we can better understand what the mutation means and how they behave.”