Speaking in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Spanish flu of 1918 had taken two years to overcome. But he added that current advances in technology could enable the world to halt the virus “in a shorter time”.
“Of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading,” he said.
“But at the same time, we have also the technology to stop it, and the knowledge to stop it,” he noted, stressing the importance of “national unity, global solidarity”. The flu of 1918 killed at least 50 million people.
Coronavirus has so far killed 800,000 people. Nearly 23 million infections have been recorded but the number of people who have actually had the virus is thought to be much higher due to inadequate testing and asymptomatic cases.
Prof Sir Mark Walport, a member of the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) – on Saturday said that Covid-19 was “going to be with us forever in some form or another. So, a bit like flu, people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals,” he told the media.
In Geneva, Dr Tedros said corruption related to supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic was “unacceptable”, describing it as “murder”. “If health workers work without PPE, we’re risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve,” he added, in response to a question.