Health and Healthcare Systems

'By no means is this over': WHO briefing

Executive Director of the World Health Organization's (WHO) emergencies program Mike Ryan speaks at a news conference on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse - RC23VE9EJ7GO

Dr Michael Ryan had a clear warning about the challenges that remain. Image: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Joe Myers
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COVID-19

  • The World Health Organization held a media briefing on 10 June, to update the public on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
  • Despite progress, significant risks remain - but the combination of these risks will differ around the world, as Dr Michael Ryan warns "by no means is this over."
  • Equal access to vaccines must be ensured.
  • No data yet to suggest that COVID-19 will be affected by climatic and seasonal changes.

Significant risks remain from COVID-19, explained Dr Michael Ryan and Dr Maria Van Kerkhove during the WHO's media briefing on 10 June.

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But they stressed it's important to remember that the combination of risks and priorities will vary in different countries and regions. "It might be a pandemic that's affecting the world, but it's affecting each country in different ways," said Dr Ryan. "By no means is this over."

This pandemic is still evolving and growing in many parts of the world, and we have deep concerns that health systems in many countries are struggling, he explained.

Have you read?

Dr Van Kerkhove said it's also important to consider the risks associated with non-COVID diseases, for example through disruptions to vaccine programmes.

You can read more on COVID-19-related risks here.

Equal access

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on leaders to commit to making a COVID-19 vaccine accessible to all, when one is discovered.

"The most important thing in ensuring access is political commitment," he told the briefing.

It must be a global public good, he added.

vaccines development COVID-19
The stages of vaccine development Image: Wellcome

Seasonal differences?

It's too early to say whether COVID-19 might follow similar seasonal cycles as the influenza virus, said Dr Ryan, in response to a question from Brazil about the arrival of winter.

We don't know how it will behave, and there's no data to suggest whether it will transmit more aggressively or not, he explained. "We have no indications as to how the disease will behave in the future."

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Regardless of the impact of any climatic changes, we need to continue to focus on the measures countries are already taking, he added.

Dr Van Kerkhove also urged countries to continue to test for flu as well as COVID-19, to use the well-developed influenza systems that are already in place.

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