WHO warns it is ‘unrealistic’ the COVID pandemic will end this year

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A senior World Health Organization official has warned it is ‘premature’ and ‘unrealistic’ to think that the pandemic might be over by the end of the year.

Dr Michael Ryan, director of WHO’s emergencies programme, said that the world’s singular focus right now should be keeping the transmission of Covid-19 as low as possible.

But he did add that the recent arrival of vaccines could at least help dramatically reduce hospitalisations and death.

‘If we’re smart, we can finish with hospitalisations and the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic’ by the end of the year, Ryan said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

He said WHO was reassured by emerging data showing that many of the licensed vaccines appear to be helping to curb the virus’ explosive spread.

‘If 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 toward controlling this pandemic,’ Ryan said.

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

Speaking at the same press briefing, WHO’s director-general said it was ‘regrettable’ that younger and healthier adults in some rich countries are being vaccinated against the coronavirus before at-risk health workers in developing countries.

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