That’s the grim reality that Mike Ryan, emergencies director for the World Health Organization, said Wednesday during a coronavirus briefing.
Speaking during a virtual news conference from Geneva, Ryan said the world should prepare for the possibility that a vaccine for COVID-19 will not be found. Even if one eventually is developed, it would still take a “massive effort” to distribute it worldwide and control the virus.
“This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” he said.
“I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be.”
Ryan said that one way or another, humanity may have to learn to cope with COVID-19. “HIV has not gone away — but we have come to terms with the virus,” he said
At the same briefing, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, said social distancing was still the best way to control the spread of the coronavirus, for now.
About 100 organizations worldwide are working on developing a coronavirus vaccine.
Some countries that seem to have halted the spread, like Germany and South Korea, have seen a resurgence of cases. A spike of new infections in Lebanon prompted the government to reimpose a four-day lockdown Wednesday after it began gradually lifting restrictions earlier this month.
In the United States, the government’s top virology expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned the public and leaders of the dangers of reopening too soon. Fauci told a Senate committee Tuesday that premature lifting of restrictions could lead to an outbreak that could be impossible to control.
Worldwide, there were about 4.3 million confirmed infections and more than 297,000 deaths late Wednesday evening EDT, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics. The United States was leading the world in the number of infections, with close to 1.4 million, and the number of coronavirus-related deaths, over 84,000.