By Li Qingqing Source:Global Times
Logo of World Health Organization
“This virus may never go away,” said Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme, during a briefing on Wednesday. He also said that he doesn’t believe “anyone can predict when this disease will disappear” and it requires a “massive effort” to control the virus.
It is time for countries to face up to the facts. Many experts have explained that it is normal for a virus to exist for a long time after it appears, and it is also possible for the COVID-19 to turn into a long-standing disease just like the flu. SARS, which vanished and has not reappeared in 17 years, is a rare exception.
But even if the COVID-19 does not go away, it is still possible for scientists to find effective ways to control it. HIV, for example, has not gone away, but scientists have found post-exposure prevention to effectively stop the infection. Smallpox is the only infectious disease that has been eradicated by human beings, and we still have a long way to go in our conquest of infectious diseases.
The COVID-19’s possible long existence does not mean that countries should give up their strict prevention and control measures to defeat the virus. Nor should it be an excuse of any government’s failings in COVID-19 prevention and control. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Wednesday that the alert level in any country should still be at the “highest possible.”
Yet some countries are still treating the COVID-19 in an opportunistic way. For example, top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci had warned about the dangers of reopening the economy too quickly, but US President Donald Trump said his warning was “unacceptable.”
The Trump administration should understand that the COVID-19’s long existence does not justify the US’ premature reopening of its economy. The total COVID-19 infections worldwide have surpassed 4.3 million as of press time, with US confirmed cases topping 1.4 million. Reopening the economy too soon would be a dereliction of duty and shows that some US politicians do not respect scientific knowledge at all. They are favoring politics over science, and it seems the Trump administration wants to resume work and production before being adequately prepared in virus control.
The COVID-19 is not simply a public health crisis. It is a comprehensive crisis that has brought a huge impact on all countries’ political, economic and cultural systems. These challenges may be very difficult to overcome through short-term measures. All countries must be more proactive in virus prevention and control to prepare for long-term coexistence with the COVID-19.
Some politicians should drop their illusions and stop hoping that the COVID-19 will disappear in summer or will suddenly vanish just like SARS. There is no miracle. All countries must treat the coronavirus seriously and make decisions based on scientific analysis instead of political interests. Giving up the COVID-19 fight and letting it spread freely would be a betrayal to all mankind.