COVID May Never Go Away But Public Health Emergency Could Be Over This Year: WHO

The COVID-19 virus may never end, but strict guidelines and vaccination requirements could lead to an end of lockdowns and hospitalizations.

The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization (WHO) spoke about it on Tuesday during a panel discussion hosted by the World Economic Forum.

"We may never end the virus" because such pandemic viruses "end up becoming part of the ecosystem," Dr. Michael Ryan said. "[But] we have a chance to end the public health emergency this year if we do the things that we've been talking about."

The discussion was a virtual gathering attended by world and business leaders. Ryan said that the tragedy of the virus would continue if the vaccines and other tools were not shared fairly. The virus has killed more than 5.5 million people worldwide. The discussion also centered around vaccines, lockdown protocols and impact it has had on the economy.

While COVID-19 is highly unlikely to be eliminated, it could kill people at much lower levels, even if it becomes endemic and after, according to public health officials, the Associated Press reported.

"Endemic malaria kills hundred of thousands of people; endemic HIV; endemic violence in our inner cities," Ryan said. "Endemic in itself does not mean good. Endemic just means it's here forever."

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he plans to keep his nation's stringent border controls in place until February, according to AP.

For 2022, the goal of the WHO is to have 70 percent of the population in every country of the world vaccinated. On Friday, they recommended two new treatments for COVID-19 based on data collected from seven trials.

The vaccine imbalance between rich and poor countries was slammed by the WHO as a "catastrophic moral failure." It is estimated fewer than 10 percent of people in lower-income countries have received one does of the vaccine.

On Thursday, the WHO warned that the unequal distribution of the vaccines could contribute to new COVID variants, which could threaten the global economic recovery. The International Monetary Fund, according to CNBC is expected to downgrade and has delayed the release of its World Economic Outlook in order to take the impact of omicron into account. The Outlook will not be released until the end of January.

"The more people who get vaccinated the less the economic effect," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during a news conference in December. "It doesn't mean it won't have an economic effect."

According to AP, during a separate press briefing on Tuesday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general, said there were 18 million new cases reported last week.

The COVID-19 virus may never end, but strict guidelines and vaccination requirements could lead to an end of lockdowns and hospitalizations. Above, syringes filled with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 in a medical dish at the Humboldt Forum museum during the Omicron wave of the coronavirus pandemic on January 18, 2022, in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Sean Gallup/Getty Images