Covid-19 is likely “here to stay with us” as the virus continues to mutate in unvaccinated countries across the world and previous hopes of eradicating it diminish, global health officials said Tuesday.
“I think this virus is here to stay with us and it will evolve like influenza pandemic viruses, it will evolve to become one of the other viruses that affects us,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a press briefing.
Officials at the global health agency have previously said vaccines do not guarantee the world would eradicate Covid-19 like it has other viruses. Several leading health experts, including White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and Stephane Bancel, CEO of Covid vaccine maker Moderna, have warned that the world will have to live with Covid forever, much like influenza.
“People have said we’re going to eliminate or eradicate the virus,” Ryan said. “No we’re not, very, very unlikely.”
If the world had taken early steps to stop the spread of the virus, the situation today could have been very different, WHO officials said.
“We had a chance in the beginning of this pandemic,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said Tuesday. “This pandemic did not need to be this bad.”