COVID-19 likely to be ‘here to stay with us’ as WHO warns virus will mutate like flu

WHO calls for action as Europe coronavirus cases rise

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says COVID-19 will mutate similar to the flu and is unfortunately likely to stay.

The global health officials said the virus is “here to stay with us” as we continue to witness new variations globally.

Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Emergencies Programme, said at a press briefing: “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.”

WHO officials 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 Moderna, have warned that the world will have to live with Covid forever, much like influenza.

“The virus is telling us it’s going to throw out a lot of mutations,” infectious disease specialist Dr Jesse Goodman, ex-chief scientist at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said in an interview.

He added: “Even if we don’t have a critical situation right at the moment there’s a realistic possibility that variants will continue to evolve that have potential to avoid vaccine immunity.”

“People have said we’re going to eliminate or eradicate the virus,” Dr 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.”

Some scientists have used the term vaccine resistance to describe the reduced efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines against some variants.

That’s to be expected, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told JAMA Editor in Chief Dr Howard Bauchner, MD, back in February.

Regardless of the platform on which the vaccine is based, Fauci said, “you still have a fixed immunogen and a virus that’s changing. Sooner or later, you’re going to get a mutant that evades that.”

According to the Zoe COVID study, the current ranking of Covid symptoms after being fully vaccinated include:

  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of smell.

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