Coronavirus could become endemic like HIV, the World Health Organization has warned.
“It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan told an online briefing.
“I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear,” he added.
“I think there are no promises in this and there are no dates.
“This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be.”
However, he said it would take a massive effort by the world to cope with the disease, even if a vaccine was found.
He described the huge effort needed as a “massive moonshot”.
More than 100 potential vaccines are being developed, including several in clinical trials.
However, experts have underscored the difficulties of finding vaccines that are effective against coronaviruses.
Ryan noted that vaccines exist for other illnesses, such as measles, that have not been eliminated.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added: “The trajectory is in our hands, and it’s everybody’s business, and we should all contribute to stop this pandemic.”
“We need to get into the mindset that it is going to take some time to come out of this pandemic,” WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove told the briefing.