May 14, 2020 - Health

UN issues dire economic report as WHO warns coronavirus "may never go away"

Factory workers package disposable protective masks along a production line in Morocco's Casablanca on April 10, 2020
Factory workers package disposable protective masks along a production line in Morocco's Casablanca on April 10, as the North African country increases mask production due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus will cause the sharpest economic downturn since the Great Depression, a UN report projected on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Governments around the world are pushing to reopen economies devastated by COVID-19 lockdown measures as cases continue to rise along with the death toll. And the World Health Organization warns the virus "may never go away."

  • WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan stressed during a briefing on Wednesday that it would take a "massive effort" to get COVID-19 under control even if there were a vaccine.

What they're saying: "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," Ryan said.

  • He noted HIV hadn't gone away, but we have found the therapies and we have found the prevention methods.

The big picture: The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects report stated the pandemic would cause the global economy to shrink 3.2.%, "racking up some $8.5 trillion in overall losses — wiping out nearly four years of output gains."

  • A top official at WHO's mental health department to the UN warned of an emerging mental health crisis. "The isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil — they all cause or could cause psychological distress," the department's director, Devora Kestel said.

By the numbers: COVID-19 has infected more than 4.3 million people and killed over 297,00.

Of note: Scientists are working on more than 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines and several in clinical trials are under way.

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