A senior World Health Organization official said on Monday it was "premature" and "unrealistic" to think the pandemic might be stopped by the end of the year, but that the recent arrival of effective vaccines could at least help dramatically reduce hospitalizations and death. The world's singular focus right now should be on keeping transmission of Covid-19 as low as possible, said Dr Michael Ryan, director of WHO's emergencies program.
"If we're smart, we can finish with the hospitalizations and the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic" by the end of the year, he said at media briefing. Ryan said WHO was reassured by emerging data that many of the licensed vaccines appear to be helping curb the virus' explosive spread.
"If the vaccines begin to impact not only death and hospitalization, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic."
But Ryan warned against complacency, saying that nothing was guaranteed in an evolving epidemic.
"Right now the virus is very much in control," he said.