The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could become endemic like HIV, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, warning against any attempt to predict how long it would keep circulating and calling for a “massive effort” to counter it.
Dr Mike Ryan said, It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away.I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear,” he added. “I think there are no promises in this and there are no dates. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be.”
“HIV has not gone away – but we have come to terms with the virus.”
Dr Ryan then said he doesn’t believe “anyone can predict when this disease will disappear”.
Governments around the world are struggling with the question of how to reopen their economies while still containing the virus, which has infected almost 4.3 million people, according to a Reuters tally, and led to over 291,000 deaths.
The European Union pushed on Wednesday for a gradual reopening of borders within the bloc that have been shut by the pandemic, saying it was not too late to salvage some of the summer tourist season while still keeping people safe.
But public health experts say extreme caution is needed to avoid new outbreaks. Ryan said opening land borders was less risky than easing air travel, which was a “different challenge”.