The coronavirus may “never go away,” says the WHO official

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WHO’s director of health emergencies, Michael Ryan, speaks during a coronavirus news briefing in Geneva on March 11. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

The coronavirus novel may never disappear and could join the mix of viruses that kill people around the world every year, said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergency response program.

“This virus could become another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away. HIV has not gone away,” said Ryan.

“I am not comparing the two diseases, but I think it is important that we are realistic. I don’t think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear,” added Ryan.

With a vaccine, “we may have a chance to eliminate this virus but that vaccine will have to be available, it will have to be highly effective, it will have to be made available to everyone and we will have to use it,” Ryan said. “This disease can arise in a long-term problem or it may not be.”

However, the future of coronavirus does not have to be entirely negative, according to WHO epidemiologist, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove.

“The trajectory of this outbreak is in our hands,” said Van Kerkhove during Wednesday’s briefing.

“The global community has come together to work in solidarity,” said Van Kerkhove. “We have seen countries under control of this virus. We have seen countries that use public health measures.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus echoed Van Kerkhove’s feelings on Wednesday and added: “We should all help stop this pandemic.”

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