COVID-19 may foreshadow even worse pandemic, WHO warns
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic killing more than 1.5 million people, the World Health Organization's (WHO) Michael Ryan has warned there may be more dangerous viruses in the future and urged nations to use the crisis as "a wake-up call" for the future.
Ryan said: "This pandemic has been very severe, it's spread around the world extremely quickly and has affected every corner of the planet. But this is not necessarily the 'Big One'."
He added: "This virus is very transmissible and it kills people and deprives so many people of loved ones. But its current case fatality is reasonably low compared with other emerging diseases. This is a wake-up call."
The WHO has urged governments to come together to improve their pandemic prevention systems and, despite the measures not being in place for the COVID-19 crisis, it has called for countries to use this pandemic as a learning curve to protect themselves for the future.
"The planet is fragile, we live in an increasingly complex, global society. These threats will continue. If there's one thing we need to take from this pandemic with all of the tragedy and loss, is that we need to get our act together," Ryan said.
"We need to get ready for something that may be even more severe in the future. In this we must honor those we've lost, by getting better at what we do every day," he added.
WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward also cautioned that, while the world had made huge scientific progress to address the crisis, it remained far from prepared to ward off future pandemics.
"We are into second and third waves of this virus and we are still not prepared to deal with and manage those. So, while we are better prepared, we are not fully prepared for this one, let alone the next one," he said.