W.H.O. Offers Grim Warning On Pandemic: 'The Worst Is Yet To Come'

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W.H.O. Offers Grim Warning On Pandemic: 'The Worst Is Yet To Come'
Global organization says "the virus still has a lot of room to move" as deaths top 500,000.
SHOW TRANSCRIPT

The COVID-19 pandemic passed a grim milestone this week: Deaths topped 500,000. The total infections count now exceeds 10 million coronavirus cases.

And Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, says the global picture isn't going to improve any time soon. In fact, he says, it will worsen because "the virus still has a lot of room to move." 

"The worst is yet to come. I'm sorry to say that. But with this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst," he said.

His remarks Monday came as the U.S. was seeing major infection spikes in Texas as well as Florida, Arizona and many other states. Ghebreyesus said he fears a COVID-19 resurgence amid a race to reopen struggling economies.

He also expressed worry about "concerning signs of stigma, misinformation and the politicization of the pandemic," perhaps illustrated in this anti-mask wearing protest in Arizona.

Meanwhile, WHO officials cited South Korea, Japan and Germany as global examples for combating the virus through programs of testing, contact tracing and isolation. The WHO's Health Emergencies Programme director says that's the best hope until there's a vaccine.

"The only other way that a virus like this may be suppressed is by us breaking the chains of transmission. If you accept that you cannot do that, then the only option is to let this virus run free through society. And we have already seen the horrific impact of that," said Dr. Michael Ryan.

Those impacts are seen in places like Brazil, second to the U.S. in infections and deaths. The surge continues unabated in Russia and India.

Said Ghebreyesus: "The pandemic is actually speeding up. We're all in this together. And we're all in this for the long haul."