'This is a wake-up call': WHO warns future pandemics could be worse than COVID

Dr. Mark Ryan, head of the WHO emergencies program says "we need to get ready for something which may be more severe in the future."

Elie Cantin-Nantel Ottawa ON

While the current pandemic has resulted in over 1.7 million deaths worldwide, ruined economies and livelihoods, and overwhelmed healthcare systems, the WHO is warning that future pandemics could be much worse.

Dr. Mark Ryan, head of the WHO emergencies program, told the media on Monday "we need to get ready for something which may be more severe in the future."

"This pandemic has been very severe, it has spread around the world extremely quickly and has affected every corner of this planet," adds Ryan.

"But this is not necessarily the big one. This virus is very transmissible and kills people, it has deprived so many people of loved ones. But its current case fatality is reasonably low in comparison to other emerging diseases. This is a wake-up call."

He also said that due to the fragility of our planet, we must take lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and "get our act together." Ryan added that it is possible that COVID-19 will not be eradicated, despite the rollout of many vaccines, Global News reports.

"The likely scenario is the virus will become another endemic virus that will remain somewhat of a threat, but a very low-level threat in the context of an effective global vaccination program," said Ryan.

"It remains to be seen how well the vaccines are taken up, how close we get to a coverage level that might allow us the opportunity to go for elimination," he said. "The existence of a vaccine, even at high efficacy, is no guarantee of eliminating or eradicating an infectious disease."

The warning from the WHO comes two weeks after the United Kingdom reported a new strain of the coronavirus, which early studies show is more contagious. However, there is no evidence to show that it results in harsher symptoms or that vaccines aren't effective on it.


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