COVID-19, the deadly virus that has already claimed nearly 2,000 lives in China and beyond, has been a source of alarm for citizens and governments around the world. But recent remarks from the leader of the World Health Organization are helping to put things in perspective.
Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva it “appears that COVID-19 is not as deadly as other coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS”. The Ethiopian WHO chief pointed out that more than 80% of patients exhibit only “mild disease and will recover”.
Tedros was careful to caution that there was still much the global health community didn’t know, but said new data coming from China “addresses some of the gaps in our understanding.”
WHO medical experts arrived in China early last week to assess and assist the country’s effort to combat the epidemic. Tedros said the team was working with Chinese counterparts to gain a “better understand of the outbreak.”
He stressed the urgency of responding to the virus in a timely way. “We need resources now to ensure countries are prepared now,” the Director-General said. “We don’t know how long this window of opportunity will remain open. Let’s not squander it.”