COVID-19 could become ‘just like the flu’, says World Health Organization chief
World Health Organization says the COVID-19 pandemic could subside this year to the point where it poses a flu-like threat.
The UN health agency has previously expressed confidence that it will be able to declare an end to the emergency sometime in 2023, saying it is increasingly hopeful that the pandemic phase of the virus will be over.
This past weekend marked three years since the WHO first called the situation a “pandemic,” though WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus insists countries should have acted weeks in advance.
“I think we are getting closer to the point where we can look at Covid-19 the same way we look at seasonal flu,” Michael Ryan, director of emergencies at WHO, said at a press conference.
“A threat to health, a virus that will continue to kill. But a virus that doesn’t destroy our society and doesn’t destroy our hospital systems, and I believe it will happen, as Tedros said, this year.”
The head of the WHO said the world is now in a much better position than ever during a pandemic.
The WHO declared a PHEIC, the highest level of alert possible, on January 30, 2020, with fewer than 100 cases and no deaths reported outside of China.
But it wasn’t until Tedros called the deteriorating situation a pandemic on March 11 of that year that many countries seemed to realize the danger.
“We have declared a global health emergency to encourage countries to take decisive action, but not all countries have done so,” he said on Friday.
“Three years later, almost seven million deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded, although we know the actual number of deaths is much higher.”
He was pleased that for the first time, the weekly number of reported deaths in the past four weeks was lower than when he first described COVID-19 as a pandemic.
But he said the more than 5,000 deaths reported per week are 5,000 too many for a preventable and treatable disease.