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COVID-19 may persist for a long time, we may have to live with it —WHO

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WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has told all those who care to listen that the novel COVID-19 virus may become endemic in the same way as HIV and populations around the world will have to learn to live with it.

WHO sounded the warning on Wednesday as countries began gradually easing lockdown restrictions, with more than 100 potential vaccines being developed but experts stress the difficulty in finding one that is effective.

“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. HIV has not gone away, but we have come to terms with the virus,” WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan told an online briefing.

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“I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear. I think there are no promises in this and there are no dates. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be.”

However, Ryan said the world had some control over how it coped with the disease, although this would take a “massive effort” even if a vaccine were found, a prospect he described as a “massive moonshot”.

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