Health Care

Africa facing a quarter of a billion coronavirus cases, World Health Organization predicts

Africa facing a quarter of a billion coronavirus cases, World Health Organization predicts”

Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization's health emergencies program, wants people to be aware that the coronavirus now sweeping across the world "may never go away".

"This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away", Michael Ryan, the world body's emergencies director, said at a virtual media briefing in Geneva.

Ryan said he was "not comparing the two diseases" but argued that the trajectory of HIV shows that nobody can predict when the coronavirus will disappear.

"It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away", he went on.

Decades after the AIDS crisis began, there is still a stigma around HIV which means that people living with the virus are subjected to stereotyping, moral judgements, social isolation and healthcare discrimination.

"I would say in a four-to-five-year timeframe we could be looking at controlling this", she said.

Most countries imposed some form of lockdown to contain the spread of infection, with some of them gradually relaxing restrictions recently.

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"But our recommendation is still the alert at any country should be at the highest level possible".

Meanwhile, the deadly virus has claimed over 290000 lives globally and infected over 4.3 million people.

More than 100 potential vaccines are being developed, including several in clinical trials, but experts have underscored the difficulties of finding vaccines that are effective against coronaviruses.

Speaking on Thursday during a webinar, WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti says: "We were estimating nearly 26% of the population could be infected in Africa if effective prevention measures were not put in place".

"There is some magical thinking going on that lockdowns work perfectly and that unlocking lockdowns will go great".

"Even though an effective vaccine might be developed, it would require vast work to produce sufficient doses and distribute them worldwide". He noted that vaccines have failed to wipe out diseases like measles.

"It's an opportunity for humanity to show the best of what we are made of", Alvarado said, speaking from Costa Rica Friday, referring to the repository set to be formally launched May 29. "Both are fraught with dangers", the Irish epidemiologist said.

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