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.

Go deeper

17 hours ago - World

Lebanon reports coronavirus record: UN warns Beirut blast may drive cases higher

Protesters commemorate on Tuesday the victims of Beirut's Aug. 4 port explosion, which killed at least 158 people and injured some 6,000 others. Photo: Marwan Naamani/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Lebanon reported on Tuesday seven deaths from COVID-19 and a record 309 new cases, taking the total number of infections to over 7,100.

Why it matters: World Organization official Tarik Jarasevic told a UN briefing in Geneva Tuesday that the displacement of some 300,000 people from the deadly explosion in Beirut's port could lead to a surge in cases. A UN report warns the emergency "has caused many COVID-19 precautionary measures to be relaxed, raising the prospects of even higher transmission rates and a large caseload in coming weeks," Reuters notes.

Updated 38 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

France reported more than 2,500 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours — the largest single-day number since May. French officials said the situation was "clearly worsening," per France 24.

By the numbers: Over 745,600 people have died of the novel coronavirus globally and over 20.4 million have tested positive, per Johns Hopkins. Almost 12.7 million have recovered from the virus.

Aug 12, 2020 - Health

Fauci says he "seriously" doubts Russia's coronavirus vaccine is safe

NIAID director Anthony Fauci testifies during a July congressional hearing on Capitol Hill. Photo: Kevin DietschI/AFP via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci cast doubt during a National Geographic discussion due to air this week on the effectiveness of Russia's registered coronavirus vaccine touted by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "Having a vaccine ... and proving that a vaccine is safe and effective are two different things," Fauci told told ABC News' Deborah Roberts in the discussion, expected to air on Thursday. His comments add to the weight of skepticism from scientists around the world on the Russia vaccine. There is no published scientific to support support Putin's claims.