The World Health Organisation hopes the coronavirus crisis can be over in less than two years, its chief said today.
The Spanish Flu pandemic that hit in 1918 took two years to end, WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The Ethiopian biologist and WHO official told a briefing in Geneva: “Our situation now with more technology, of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading, it can move fast.
“At the same time we have the technology and knowledge to stop it.”
More than 22.81 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 793,382 have died, according to Reuters.
Some scientists have suggested coronavirus could follow a similar pattern to the deadly Spanish flu, which swept the globe in three waves, claiming about 50 millions lives.
It broke out in March 1918 and mainly affected the elderly and infirm during the First World War.
By August 1918, it was hoped the pandemic was coming to an end, but the death spiked again in September to November.
But the virus had developed into a new strain, and this hit young, healthy people.
The president elect of the Royal Society of Medicine Professor Roger Kirby said in July: “The winter is coming and almost certainly a second wave of this virus is coming.
“What we saw in 1918 was the virus change and the second wave was different from the first wave and it affected a different group of people – particularly younger people.”
Pandemic experts fear Covid-19 could go through a similar ‘W curve’ as the Spanish Flu – the deadliest pandemic in history.
The Spanish Flu first saw a ‘U curve’ – two major spikes in deaths among the very old and very young.
But this became a ‘W curve’ – as death rates spiked among healthy 25 to 30-year-olds.
Doctors in America are also said to fear death trends will be similar to those documented in the Spanish Flu.
Dr. Raul Vasquez, CEO of the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network, said in July that the Spanish Flu came in three waves, with the ‘U curve’ representing the first two waves.
But in the final wave, the curve on the graph became a W shape as a third demographic of those aged 20 to 40-years-old saw disproportionate deaths, and not just the old or very young.
In the Spanish Flu pandemic, it was all over by the summer of 1919.
The brutal reality then was that everyone who had caught the virus had either been killed, or had developed immunity to it.
While some countries have managed to reduce transmission of COVID-19, Dr Tedros today warned that “progress does not mean victory”.
He referenced several countries which had experienced new outbreaks, saying: “These countries are a cautionary tale for those that are now seeing a downward trend in cases.”
Much more research is needed on the impact of mutations in the coronavirus, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said today.
She said: “A special working group has been formed to identify mutations … and we’re looking at how we can better understand what the mutation means and how they behave.”
India neared the 3million mark for coronavirus cases today, while Latin America’s death toll passed 250,000 as the region reported more than 3,000 fatalities a day over the last week.
The reproduction ‘R rate’ number of infections in the United Kingdom has risen and may now be above 1, indicating a risk the overall epidemic is growing.
Spain’s equality minister has asked regions to order the closure of brothels to try to prevent new outbreaks, as daily infections rise to 3,650.
Sweden plans to allow more spectators at cultural and sporting events.
Poland reported 903 new cases, its highest daily increase.
In the US, a top health regulator who will help decide the fate of a coronavirus vaccine has vowed to resign if the Trump administration approves a vaccine before it is shown to be safe and effective.
New York City has managed to contain the virus as it reopens, but risks an increase in cases later in the year, public health experts said.
The scale of the pandemic in Mexico is “under-represented” and “under-recognised” and testing is limited, the World Health Organisation’s Dr Mike Ryan said.
The Brazilian government has barred Doctors Without Borders from helping prevent and detect suspected cases in indigenous villages in the south, the NGO said.