When will the COVID-19 health crisis end? A little less than a year after the virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, this question remains unanswered.
And as a second wave of the novel coronavirus sweeps across Europe, WHO-Europe senior emergency officer Catherine Smallwood paints a rather pessimistic picture of the global situation in an interview with Le Parisien.
Is the virus really here to stay?
When asked about the health crisis, the English expert described COVID-19 as a 'formidable opponent' that will be difficult—not to say impossible—to eradicate given our lifestyles. The only viable solution, in her eyes, would be the development of a vaccine or a remedy that would reduce the prevalence of the virus throughout the world. According to Smallwood, until that happens, we'll be fighting one wave after another.
But how long will we have to live with the constant threat of COVID-19? Catherine Smallwood says it's not a matter of weeks or months, but years.
One thing's for sure, the virus is here to stay. What remains to be seen is what long-term impact it will have on our health and society.
In the meantime, one of the main challenges will be controlling these successive waves, and 'succeeding in flattening the curve in order to maintain control over the situation and no longer have to endure the ups and downs we've seen,' says the WHO officer.
'Don't let yourself be overtaken by it'
Catherine Smallwood, citing Finland as an example, says:
We have to stay ahead of the virus and not let ourselves be overtaken by it. From the start, Finland put in place decisive and rapid contact-tracing measures. People were very cooperative and that had an immediate impact on the epidemic. We should really learn from that.
As for the recurring questions regarding winter holiday family gatherings, she warns:
We can still celebrate Christmas with our families! But how... that's another question. It's difficult to predict how the epidemic will evolve (...). One thing's for sure, it will be a Christmas like no other.