Volunteers wearing protective gear stand before spraying disinfectant on a street as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, in Kabul June 18, 2020 Photograph:( AFP )
On Tuesday, the WHO dispelled all notions of incoming second waves of the virus in major former hotspots by claiming that the virus constitutes “one big wave”
The coronavirus pandemic has frustrated healthcare workers and scientists owing to its elusive nature, and the new information that keeps coming in as the pandemic progresses.
In the midst of this barrage of weekly new information, the World Health Organization continues to make new observations on the pandemic. The organisation has faced criticism for playing into the hands of Chinese authorities and delaying the public service announcements of COVID-19, which could have saved thousands of lives.
Recently, a group of scientists pressed the WHO to consider that the virus is airborne and can be transmitted through air, and not simply through droplets emanating from coughing and sneezing.
On Tuesday, the WHO dispelled all notions of incoming second waves of the virus in major former hotspots by claiming that the virus constitutes “one big wave”, and will not most probably become “seasonal”, for it does not share the characteristics of an influenza which emerges and disappears seasonally.
The WHO has avoided referring to any resurgence as “wave”. It believes this implies that the virus is out of human control. But research and on-ground action has shown how early tracing, detection, and isolation clubbed with basic hygiene practices can tremendously limit the transmission of the deadly virus.
A study recently in fact claimed that we might not even need vaccines if everybody took the virus seriously and follows social distancing and hand washing protocols rigorously.
“We are in the first wave. It’s going to be one big wave”, WHO’s Margaret Harris said during a briefing in Geneva.
Fluctuation to continue
Harris added that the intensity would continue to fluctuate, “it’s going to go up and down a bit”, while adding that limiting transmission is the only best shot at overcoming the pandemic.
“The best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something lapping at your feet”, she said.
While referring to the elusive nature of the virus, she said that we must look beyond seasons. Additionally, she urged everyone to follow measures and to avoid mass gatherings.
"People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and...this one is behaving differently," Harris claimed.
She further said that the virus is not season-specific. "Summer is a problem. This virus likes all weather."
However, the confluence of seasonal influenza with COVID-19 could trigger an increase in the number of cases. Harris said that the WHO is monitoring this closely.
Based on current figures, the flu season this year will start later than the usual. She also urged people to get vaccinated against the flu to lighten the burden on healthcare.