The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday warned that the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be “lengthy”. During the emergency committee meeting, the members 'highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of the COVID-19 pandemic' and warned of the risk of 'response fatigue' given the socio-economic pressures on countries, WHO said in its statement.
The emergency committee panel gathered for the fourth time in Geneva to evaluate the crisis situation six months after sounding the international alarm- public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) which is WHO’s highest level of alarm.
According to WHO the global risk level of COVID-19 to be very high as it is continuously monitoring the situation. Further, the panel comprising of 18 members and 12 advisers, also unanimously agreed that the pandemic still constituted a PHEIC.
In a bid to contain the deadly coronavirus, several countries around the world have imposed strict lockdowns that have adversely affected the economies. The committee requested the WHO to provide practical guidance on COVID-19 reactions to reduce the risk of response fatigue in the context of socio-economic pressures. It also urged the WHO to support countries in preparing for the rollout of proven vaccines and therapeutics.
The emergency committee also appealed to the agency to expedite research into the remaining crucial unknowns of the virus, like the animal source and potential animal reservoirs.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus further called the COVID-19 pandemic a ‘once-in-a-century’ health crisis and said that its effects would be long-lasting. Ghebreyesus said that it is sobering to think that six months ago when the world recommended declaring a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), there were less than 100 cases and no death outside China.
Meanwhile, the WHO has been heavily criticized for the delay to declare an international emergency. The United States has also accused the organization of being too close to China and has officially withdrawn from the WHO in July. It has been also criticized for recommendations considered late or contradictory, in particular on wearing masks, or the modes of transmission of the virus.