Covid will mutate like the flu and is likely here to stay

World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Program Executive Director Mike Ryan speaks at a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) press conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Denis Balibouse | Reuters

Covid-19 is likely “here to stay with us” as the virus continues to mutate in unvaccinated countries around the world and previous hopes of eradication dwindle, global health officials said Tuesday.

“I think this virus is here to stay with us and it will develop like the flu viruses, it will become one of the other viruses that affect us,” Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a news conference.

Global health officials have previously said vaccines do not guarantee that the world would eradicate Covid-19 like other viruses. Several leading health professionals, including Chief White House Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Stephane Bancel, CEO of Covid vaccine maker Moderna, have warned that the world will have to live with Covid forever, much like influenza.

“People have said we will eradicate or eradicate the virus,” said Ryan. “No, we are not, very, very unlikely.”

If the world had taken early steps to stop the virus from spreading, the situation today could have been very different, WHO officials said.

“We had a chance at the start of this pandemic,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical director for Covid-19, on Tuesday. “This pandemic didn’t have to be that bad.”

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