A senior official at the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that people in countries across the globe must be prepared for a “second or third wave” of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus, until a vaccine is available.
Dr. Hans Kluge, the head of the WHO in Europe, said in an April 30 statement in Copenhagen, Denmark, that Europe remains “very much in the grip” of the pandemic, despite positive signs it was passing the peak.
“Tragically, 129,344 people in Europe have now lost their lives. My thoughts and deepest sympathy are with the families and loved ones of those we have lost,” Kluge said.
“Every country is mapping out its route to a new normal, and every country is at a different place,” he said.
The COVID-19 death count in the United States on Friday hit 63,927, according to a Worldometers tally, while the number of infections neared 1.1 million.
Kluge called on countries to prolong strategies to curb the spread of the virus.
“We must maintain the full arsenal of measures we have to suppress transmission,” Kluge said, adding, “COVID-19 is not going away any time soon.”
The WHO official’s remarks echo a warning by America’s top infectious disease expert and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said the virus is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.
Fauci said in an interview with the Economic Club on Tuesday—the same day the number of infections in the United States topped a million—that he is “almost certain” there will be repeated outbreaks because of how contagious it is and how widely it has spread across the globe.
“In my mind, it’s inevitable that we will have a return of the virus or maybe it never went away,” he added.
Key to keeping the death count down in the United States as states begin to lift lockdowns and reopen economies are COVID-19 testing, isolating the sick, and contact tracing.
“If by that time we have put into place all of the countermeasures that you need to address this, we should do reasonably well,” Fauci said. “If we don’t do that successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter.”
Speaking at a White House briefing on April 22, Fauci described what he said was a “successful formula” for containment and mitigation.
“We were starting to see some turnaround, some flattening, and some coming down,” he said of infection and death counts nationwide.
“So what has happened is that the mitigation that we put in with the first 15 days and then the 30-day mitigation program of physical distancing worked,” he said. “So it got us to where we are today. It is a successful formula. It is the basis for our being able to say that we can now think seriously about reopening America.”
“There are certain checkpoints before you can even think about going into a phase one, and then things relax a little as you go into phase two, and relax a little and you go into phase three,” he said, speaking of conditions outlined in the administration’s plan for a phased approach to reopening.
“Although I know one has the need to leapfrog over things, don’t do that. Do it in a measured way. This is a successful formula. The problem is if we don’t do that, there is a likelihood that we’ll have a rebound,” Fauci said.