World Health Organization leader: ‘No one can predict how long this epidemic is going to last’

Published 2:02 pm Friday, March 27, 2020

The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief says widespread testing for coronavirus is crucial and countries should not be faulted for turning up higher numbers.

Dr. Michael Ryan appealed for a shift toward measures that allow us “to live with this virus” until a vaccine emerges.

Ryan’s comments Friday suggested a change in mindset and increased resignation at the U.N. health agency that the new coronavirus outbreak that first emerged in China late last year and now has infected over a half-million is here to stay for a while.

“At this point, no one can predict how long this epidemic is going to last,” he said at a regular WHO news conference. “We are entering and moving to an uncertain future … many countries around the world are just beginning the cycle of this epidemic.”

Ryan said the world needs to move from measures aimed to “take the heat” out of the pandemic, in favor of “much more precise targets — directed targets — that will allow us, at the very least, to live with this virus until we can develop a vaccine to get rid of it.”