WHO says it is ‘unrealistic’ to expect Covid-19 to be over by the end of 2021

Woman wearing a face mask.
Woman wearing a face mask.

As the number of Covid-19 cases continues to decline in South Africa and the vaccine roll out programme in full swing, many people have a new sense of hope that the virus will soon come to an end. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that it's important to manage our expectations. 

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Speaking during a media briefing on Monday, Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme said that it was “premature” and “unrealistic” to think the pandemic might be stopped by the end of the year, but said that the recent arrival of effective vaccines could at least help dramatically reduce hospitalisations and death.

“If we’re smart, we can finish with the hospitalisations and the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic by the end of the year,” he said.

If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and hospitalisation, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic

Dr Ryan also added that the vaccines could be helping to curb the spread of the virus.

“If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and hospitalisation, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic.”

READ MORE | Cyril Ramaphosa among the first people to get COVID-19 vaccine shot in SA

In South Africa, the coronavirus vaccines were first administered on 17 February 2021, with health-care workers receiving the first single-shot doses developed by Johnson & Johnson. The government aims to inoculate two-thirds of the population by year-end and says it’s secured enough vaccines to meet that goal.

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