On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said that COVID-19 will stay on this planet for a very long time. As a matter of fact, for most countries, what COVID-19 has brought about is only the beginning.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out that countries that thought things were improving are experiencing a resurgence in confirmed cases.
“Most countries are still in the early stages of their epidemics. And some that were affected early in the pandemic are now starting to see a resurgence in cases,” he told a virtual press conference in Geneva.
“Make no mistake: we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time.”
The number of cases in Europe is on a decline, but “although numbers are low, we see worrying upward trends in Africa, Central and South America, and eastern Europe,” he said.
The United States has been so critical of the WHO saying the organization announced the outbreak a little too late, not having a harsher stance on China, and even helped cover up the severity of the virus.
Also on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that countries have the obligation to report any health emergency to the WHO within 24 hours.
“We strongly believe that the Chinese Communist Party did not report the outbreak of a new coronavirus in a timely fashion.”
Tedros has the ability to go public in the event a member state flouts protocols, “and that didn’t happen in this case either”.
On January 30, the WHO declared the virus a global health emergency, the highest formal alert the organization could trigger. This happened when there were 82 confirmed cases outside of China with zero succumbing from the virus.
Tedros thinks the organization did a good job in this regard.
“Looking back, I think we declared the emergency at the right time and when the world had enough time to respond.
“That was enough to cut it from the bud,” said Tedros.
On March 11, the WHO declared the outbreak as a pandemic that made nations take the initiative of implementing various measures.
The United States has expressed that they want Tedros to resign.
“I will continue to work day and night because this is a blessed work and responsibility: saving lives.”
“Early evidence suggests most of the world’s population remains susceptible. One of the greatest dangers we face now is complacency,” he said.
As it relates to protests against lockdowns in various countries, Tedros said that this “will not help — it will only fuel the outbreak.”
WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan mentioned that citizens will only fully cooperate with being quarantined in their homes if they believed that their respective governments had a real plan.
The organization is seeking to do an investigation in China to find out the real origins of the virus.
In previous statements, Tedros has also said pessimistically that only 3 percent of the world population has been infected so only those who have had it and recovered are likely to have some type of immunity.
He insisted that the organization has warned the world about it from the start.
“There is no secret in WHO.”
He added that no information was concealed from the United States.
“This virus is dangerous. It exploits cracks between us when we have differences.”
Things will not get better anytime soon, according to Tedros.
“Trust us. The worst is yet ahead of us. Let’s prevent this tragedy. It’s a virus that many people still don’t understand.”
Restrictions should remain because lifting them will do nothing good when it comes to getting rid of the source.
“Easing restrictions is not the end of the epidemic in any country”.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19 said, “A number of studies we are aware of in pre-print have suggested that small proportions of the population [have antibodies].”
But just because one has had the virus, doesn’t that they have formed some kind of immunity.
“Right now, we have no evidence that the use of a serological test can show that an individual has immunity or is protected from reinfection.”, said Kerkhove, somehow debunking the herd immunity theory.
On the other hand, Harvard scientists already have a theory that social distancing might be needed in the long term.
Lead author Stephen Kissler said that a long term social distancing practice is needed, especially for the United States.
“We found that one-time social distancing measures are likely to be insufficient to maintain the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 within the limits of critical care capacity in the United States.”
“What seems to be necessary in the absence of other sorts of treatments are intermittent social distancing periods.”
Mass testing will indicate if social distancing is needed to be practiced from time to time.
Until treatments are created, social distancing will remain a must.
Co-author Marc Lipsitch thinks that people should get infected intermittently to build up immunity, which is exactly what the herd immunity is all about.
Excessive social distancing will prevent the spread, but immunity will not be seen since no one is getting infected.
“The social distancing was so effective that virtually no population immunity is built.”
The researchers also think that a person infected by common cold-causing betacoronavirus can build up some kind of immunity from COVID-19.
Mark Woolhouse, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh, praised the study saying “This is an excellent study that uses mathematical models to explore the dynamics of COVID-19 over a period of several years, in contrast to previously published studies that have focused on the coming weeks or months.”
“It is important to recognize that it is a model; it is consistent with current data but is nonetheless based on a series of assumptions — for example about acquired immunity — that are yet to be confirmed,” he said.
Immunity from COVID-19 is possible when one is infected with a common cold-causing betacoronavirus, but the immunity will only last a year. This type of immunity doesn’t have the life span nor the strength for COVID-19 to die after a wave.