Covid-19 pandemic will 'hopefully' be over in two years, WHO says

21 August 2020, 17:41

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The head of the World Health organisation has said he 'hopes' the coronavirus pandemic will be over in two years.

He compared the current situation with the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which also took two years to end.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "Our situation now with more technology, of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading, it can move fast."

"At the same time we have the technology and knowledge to stop it."

Dr Tedros also warned that while some countries have managed to drive down transmission of COVID-19, "progress does not mean victory".

He explained that several countries are experiencing fresh outbreaks after long periods with little or no cases, mentioning New Zealand and Vietnam.

"These countries are a cautionary tale for those that are now seeing a downward trend in cases," he said.

The director general also said that individuals must take their own responsibility for helping to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Dr Tedros said there is no guarantee a vaccine will be found, and even if it is, "it won't end the pandemic on its own".

"We must all learn to control and manage this virus using the tools we have now, and to make the adjustments to our daily lives that are needed to keep ourselves and each other safe," he said.

Nearly 800,000 people have died from coronavirus worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

It comes amid the news that the UK's coronavirus R number has risen to between 0.9 and 1.1, according to the government's scientific advisory group.

According to data released on Friday by the Government Office for Science (GOS) and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), the UK's infection rate has now increased from the range of between 0.8 and 1.0 one week ago.

The R number represents the number of people on average someone with Covid-19 will likely go on to infect. If it creeps above 1, that suggests transmission is beginning to get out of control.

Sage also said the rate of growth - which shows how quickly the number of infections is changing day-by-day - in the UK may still be on the rise

The country's latest growth rate is between minus 3 per cent to plus 1 per cent, a slight increase on what was previously between minus 4 per cent to minus 1 per cent last week.

This means the number of new positive cases is somewhere between shrinking by 3 per cent and growing by 1 per cent every day, with the most likely value being somewhere in the middle of that range, according to experts.