Apr 12, 2020 - Health

WHO official warns coronavirus may "stalk the human race" until there's a vaccine

World Health Organization special envoy David Nabarro warned on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that the coronavirus is not expected to come in seasonal waves like influenza, and that there will continue to be outbreaks that emerge "sporadically" until there's a vaccine.

What he's saying: "We think it's going to be a virus that stalks the human race for quite a long time to come, until we can all have a vaccine that will protect us. And that there will be small outbreaks that will emerge sporadically and they will break through our defenses."

  • "So the key for this particular virus is that every community, as a kind of defensive shield, can pick up cases as soon as they appear, isolate them and stop outbreaks from developing," he added. "It's going to be necessary for every single country to have that capacity."

The big picture: President Trump accused the WHO last week of failing in its response to the coronavirus, calling it "China-centric" and claiming the organization "probably" knew about the threat of a pandemic months before sounding the alarm. He suggested that the U.S. may freeze its share of funding to the organization.

  • Nabarro responded: "We know that there will be many things that are found to have perhaps not been done as well as they could have been done, and we're anticipating there will be lots of examinations afterwards. Right now, we have to move forward. We have to get the best possible cooperation."

Nabarro also noted that the WHO depends on the information that governments around the world relay. Pressed on whether China has been honest about its confirmed case and death data, as well as the "science" of the virus, Nabarro responded:

  • "We really do have to work with the information we get. We don't have, in the World Health Organization, the power to go in and inspect beyond what countries tell us. ... [China] did invite a team — pulled together by the World Health Organization — to come and inspect everything in mid-February."
  • "There were no restrictions on what that team investigated. It included American experts as well as experts from others in the world. So we are trying to be clear to everybody that we have been given access to the information we requested. So, therefore, I don't like to say at any time, 'We don't believe.'"

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