The World Health Organization had a bleak message during a news conference Tuesday — COVID-19 is likely “here to stay with us” like the flu.
Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program said, “I think this virus is here to stay with us and it will evolve like influenza pandemic viruses, it will evolve to become one of the other viruses that affects us,” CNBC reported.
He cited a previous flu pandemic where the virus that caused it is still getting people sick. It just isn’t at a level of a public health emergency, Ryan explained.
The message, which may sound shocking to some, should not come as a surprise as the WHO had said that just because the world is being vaccinated against the coronavirus, it would not be guaranteed to be eradicated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Stephanie Banncel, CEO of the maker of the Moderna vaccine, had both said that COVID-19 would be something that we live with like influenza.
Ryan also made a similar prediction in May 2020 during a news conference before vaccines were available, saying that he doesn’t think at the time that “anyone can predict when this disease will disappear,” BBC News reported at the time.
But the WHO said it could have been a different message if the world had fought against the virus earlier.
“We had a chance in the beginning of this pandemic,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO technical lead, said Tuesday, according to CNBC. “This pandemic did not need to be this bad.”
CNN reported that the seven-day average of new cases Monday was at 137,270, but has slightly decreased compared to recent statistics. Over the Labor Day weekend last year, that number was 39,255 cases.
Fauci told CNN Tuesday that both hospitalizations and deaths have risen recently and that 75 million people who could be vaccinated against the coronavirus, have not yet gotten a shot.
Only 53% of the entire U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic.
To respond to increased hospital demands, the U.S. Army is sending 20-person medical teams consisting of nurses, respiratory therapists and doctors, to help staff hospitals in Idaho, Arkansas and Alabama, in addition to the teams that have responded in Louisana, Mississippi and Alabama, CNN reported.
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