The World Health Organization's emergencies chief warned on Wednesday the coronavirus may be here to stay.
"I think it's 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," Dr. Michael Ryan said. "I think it is important that we're realistic, and I don't think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear."
Ryan said there is a chance the virus could be eradicated if a "highly effective" vaccine is found and can be made available to anyone who needs it. But he added that even if a vaccine is developed, it would still require a massive, united global effort "to stop [the] disease in its tracks," and eradication would be "fraught with challenges" every step of the way. He pointed out that illnesses like the measles have yet to be eliminated despite there being "perfectly effective vaccines on this planet."
The WHO's technical lead for COVID-19 said it's going to take some time before a "safe and effective" vaccine is made available, but reminded the public that "the trajectory of the outbreak is in our hands."
"We have seen countries use public health measures, the fundamentals of public health and epidemiology and clinical care, to bring the virus under control," Maria Van Kerkhove said. "And to suppress transmission to a low enough level where communities can get back to work, and communities can open up again."
Contains footage from CNN.