The worst of virus is still ahead, WHO chief warns

The head of the World Health Organization has warned on Monday that “the worst is yet ahead of us” in the coronavirus outbreak, raising new alarm bells about the pandemic just as many countries are beginning to ease restrictive measures, news wires reported. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus didn’t specify exactly why he believes that the outbreak that has infected nearly 2.5m people and killed over 166,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University, could get worse.

Tedros alluded to the so-called Spanish flu in 1918 as a reference for the coronavirus outbreak.“ It has a very dangerous combination and this is happening ... like the 1918 flu that killed up to 100 million people,” he told reporters in Geneva. “But now we have technology, we can prevent that disaster, we can prevent that kind of crisis,” he added while pointed out that it’s a virus that “many people still don’t understand.”

Meanwhile, Anthony Fauci, the top US public health official on infectious diseases, cautioned on Monday that testing for antibodies to the coronavirus has not yet been perfected while also warning that immunity is still being studied. Fauci tempered expectations of a quick return to economic normality, speaking on broadcaster ABC, saying the virus had to be contained first.

The US is facing a persistent shortage of tests for the coronavirus, with current capacity at just a fraction of what experts are recommending, though efforts are under way, including in the private sector, to roll out more kits with faster turnaround for results.

Fauci said antibody testing for the coronavirus was still in its infancy, raising concerns that it may be difficult to determine who is really immune. Moreover, Fauci cautioned, as he has in the past, that immunity to the new coronavirus was still not proven, even if it is assumed. "We don't know how long that protection, if it exists, lasts," Fauci said. The antibody tests still need to be "validated and calibrated."

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