The top COVID-19 envoy at the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday claimed that we’re only at the “halfway mark” of the pandemic.
The worldwide scourge of COVID-19 last week entered its third year in the U.S., which means David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy for COVID-19, is predicting it won’t be until 2024 that we see an end.
“What people are seeing from around the world and reporting to the WHO is this is still a very, very dangerous virus, especially for people who have not been vaccinated and who’ve not been exposed to it before,” Nabarro told Sky News, according to The Daily Mail.
“The end is in sight, but how long is it going to take to get there? What sort of difficulties will we face on the way? Those are the questions that none of us can answer because this virus continues to give us challenges and surprises,” Nabarro said.
“It’s as though we’re just passing the halfway mark in a marathon and we can see that yes, there is an end and fast runners are getting through ahead of us. But we’ve still got a long, long way to trudge and it’s going to be tough,” he said.
The envoy also warned officials not to compare COVID-19 to the flu — following Britain’s decision to do just that — saying it is irresponsible because it implies the virus, and its now-dominant strain “has suddenly got incredibly weak.”
He told Sky News the virus “can also mutate and form variants and we’ve seen several but we know there are more not far away. So quite honestly, we are not saying that this should be considered to be like flu or indeed like anything else — it’s a new virus, and we must go on treating it as though it is full of surprises, very nasty and rather cunning.”
U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said falling case numbers and relatively low hospitalization rates mean “we need to learn to live with Covid in the same way we have to live with flu.”
Nabarro told Sky News of the comparisons: “I keep wondering what the people who make these amazing predictions know that I and my colleagues in the WHO don’t know.”
“Governments have got to set the direction and not shy away from that. All governments everywhere should not suggest to people that the data have suddenly changed, or the viruses suddenly got incredibly weak,” he said.
“So all I’m asking every leader in the world to do is to help everybody stay focused on the job which is keeping this virus at bay, preventing people from getting infected if at all possible, and making certain that we are well prepared to deal with further surges as they come,” Nabarro said.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to [email protected]
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