Follow us for updates
© 2020
Read the Story →

Thought COVID Was Bad? WHO Says Big One Yet to Come

The world should learn from COVID and prepare.
by Agence France Presse
Dec 29, 2020
Photo/s: shutterstock

GENEVA -- COVID-19 has had a devastating impact around the globe, but the World Health Organization warned Monday that worse pandemics could lie ahead, urging the world to get "serious" about preparedness.

"This is a wakeup call," WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan told reporters at a briefing marking a year since the UN agency first learned of the new virus spreading in China.

Since then, COVID-19 has killed nearly 1.8 million people around the world, out of over 80 million infected.

"This pandemic has been very severe," Ryan acknowledged.

"It has spread around the world extremely quickly and it has affected every corner of this planet, but this is not necessarily the big one."


COVID, Pandemic, and Lockdown: How 2020 Changed the World

New COVID Strain: What We Know So Far

He said that while the virus was "very transmissible, and it kills people... its current case fatality (rate) is reasonably low in comparison to other emerging diseases."

Continue reading below ↓

"We need to get ready for something that may even be more severe in the future."

WHO senior advisor Bruce Aylward also cautioned that while the world had made huge scientific progress to address the coronavirus crisis, including developing vaccines at record speed, it remained far from prepared to ward off future pandemics.

"We are into second and third waves of this virus and we are still not prepared to deal with and manage those," he told the briefing.

"So while we are better prepared... we are not fully prepared for this one, let alone the next one."

'More ambition'

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus voiced hope that the COVID-19 pandemic had helped the world become more prepared to tackle future threats.

"In terms of awareness, I think we are now getting it," he said.

But he stressed that it was "time now to be really serious."

"More ambition will be necessary."

Continue reading below ↓

But Tedros also hailed how scientists around the world were working closely together to help bring the pandemic to an end.

He specifically mentioned the two new strains of the virus that have emerged in Britain and South Africa, which appear to be more infectious that previous strains.

"We are working with scientists in the UK and South Africa who are carrying out epidemiologic and laboratory studies, which will guide next steps," he said.

He hailed the two countries for testing and tracking the new variants.

And with more than 50 countries now imposing travel restrictions on Britain, he also warned against taking punishing measures against countries that transparently share such results.

"Only if countries are looking and testing effectively will you be able to pick up variants and adjust strategies to cope," he said.

"We must ensure that countries are not punished for transparently sharing new scientific findings."

Latest Headlines
Read Next
Recent News
The news. So what? Subscribe to the newsletter that explains what the news means for you.
The email address you entered is invalid.
Thank you for signing up to On Three, reportr's weekly newsletter delivered to your mailbox three times a week. Only the latest, most useful and most insightful reads.
By signing up to newsletter, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.