The novel coronavirus has had a devastating impact around the globe, but the World Health Organization warned Monday that worse pandemics could lie ahead, urging the world to get “serious” about preparedness.
“This is a wakeup call,” WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan told reporters at a briefing marking a year since the UN agency first learned of the new virus spreading in China.
Since then, Covid-19 has killed nearly 1.8 million people around the world, out of over 80 million infected.
“This pandemic has been very severe,” Ryan acknowledged.
“It has spread around the world extremely quickly and it has affected every corner of this planet, but this is not necessarily the big one.”
He stressed that while the virus is “very transmissible, and it kills people… its current case fatality (rate) is reasonably low in comparison to other emerging diseases.”
“We need to get ready for something that may even be more severe in the future.”
WHO senior advisor Bruce Aylward also cautioned that while the world had made huge scientific progress to address the coronavirus crisis, including developing vaccines at record speed, it remained far from prepared to ward off future pandemics.
“We are into second and third waves of this virus and we are still not prepared to deal with and manage those,” he told the briefing.
“So while we are better prepared… we are not fully prepared for this one, let alone the next one.”