WHO’s Chief Hopes To Finish Coronavirus Pandemic In Less Than Two Years, Experts Weigh In

WHO’s Chief Hopes To Finish Coronavirus Pandemic In Less Than Two Years, Experts Weigh In

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO said that in the fight against COVID-19 there are disadvantages and advantages especially in terms of technology to take on the pandemic
Coronavirus Outbreak, News
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WHO’s Chief Hopes To Finish Coronavirus Pandemic In Less Than Two Years, Experts Weigh InSpanish flu or the 1918 pandemic lasted for more than two years
  • Coronavirus can move fast because we are more connected: Dr Tedros
  • Technology and knowledge can help in stopping COVID, said Dr Tedros
  • WHO Chief called to be cautious; said vaccine won’t end the pandemic

New Delhi: In a media briefing on August 21, the World Health Organisation (WHO) hoped to eradicate the Novel Coronavirus in less than two years’ time, faster than it took to eliminate the Spanish flu of 1918. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General at the WHO was answering a journalist’s question on the similarities between the 1918 pandemic and the Coronavirus pandemic. Drawing comparison between the two, Dr Tedros asserted that while COVID-19 can spread faster because of the connectedness between people, it can also be tamed with the help of technology and knowledge. Dr Tedros informed that it took two years (February 1918 to April 1920) to get over the 1918 pandemic and said,

Now is more connectedness, the virus has a better chance of spreading; it can move fast because we are more connected but at the same time, we have technology and knowledge to stop it. We have a disadvantage of globalisation, closeness, connectedness but an advantage of technology. So we hope to finish this pandemic in less than two years especially if we can pull our efforts together.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Is A Coronavirus And COVID-19?

Dr Tedros noted that national unity and global solidarity is the key to fighting the Coronavirus and called for utilising the available tools and said,

(By) utilising the available tools to the maximum and hoping that we can have additional tools like vaccines, I think we can finish it in a shorter time than the 1918 flu.

Elaborating on the other part of the question, how long the 1918 flu lasted, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead COVID-19, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said,

1918 pandemic was a novel strain of influenza and it circulated over a number of years. There were several waves of the pandemic impacting the globe. Once the really intense transmission was over, the virus circulated for decades till another strain replaced it.

Dr Maria noted that the similarities are in the way that both 1918 pandemic and COVID-19 are respiratory pathogens and many interventions that were deployed then are being followed now.

As on August 26, the Coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 8 lakh lives across the world. According to the WHO, Spanish flu was particularly virulent, and killed an estimated 400 lakh worldwide.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Is The Difference Between Pandemic And Epidemic?

Public Health Experts Resonate With WHO’s ‘Optimistic’ Thought

Talking about ending Coronavirus, Dr KK Aggarwal, President CMAAO (Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania) and Medtalks, HCFI (Heart Care Foundation of India) and Past National President IMA (Indian Medical Association), said,

WHO’s comment is fine and medically possible. Ending doesn’t mean there will not be even a single case. Like we are saying that Dharavi has overcome this, means cases are coming in single or double digit. They are controlled. Also, in India, the mortality is controlled when compared to 1918 pandemic that killed around 2 crore Indians.

Talking about the Spanish flu, how it impacted the world, and COVID-19 disease pattern, Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said,

It took three waves for the disease to affect most of the susceptible individuals and then settled down into probably seasonal viral flu. Very often the pandemic virus settles into seasonal virus but coronavirus is not displaying similar wave like pattern. Clearly, when the disease is not under control it jumps straight back up. From that perspective, the classic wave pattern of 1918 was very clear. The second wave was the most impactful in terms of deaths and hospitalisation particularly in the United States.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Are The Different Stages Of COVID-19 Transmission

Dr Giridhara R Babu, Professor and Head, Lifecourse Epidemiology, Indian Institute of Public Health, PHFI, Bengaluru agreed with Dr Tedros and said that there is a possibility in eliminating COVID-92 within two years but it is a very optimistic expectation and several challenges exist in succeeding in this goal. Elaborating on the challenges, Dr Babu said,

Currently, the challenge is that if we have a vaccine, how will we address the equitable distribution of the vaccine. There is also a huge manpower issue in rolling out either vaccination programmes, or surveillance, or contact tracing. In all urban areas we have the same problem of not being able to find cases on time, not trace the contacts on time, these are all new challenges due to a large population.

Contrary to this, Dr Ravindra M. Mehta is the Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Apollo Hospitals, Bengaluru said that Dr Tedros’ expectations are based on some mathematical model. However, he agreed that the intensity of the virus will definitely come down. He also agreed with Dr Tedros’ remarks on advantages we have in the fight against COVID-19 when compared to Spanish flu and said,

There is a chance of vaccine which we never had during Spanish flu. We have better healthcare infrastructure, studies to understand the spread of the virus, better communication between health bodies and implementation of advisories and strategies. Together these things will help in containing the disease and the cases will come down but masks and social distancing will go on for some time.

Also Read: Here’s What The Government Means When It Asks You To Practice Social Distancing As A Precaution Against COVID-19

Further elaborating on the differences and similarities between the two pandemics, Dr Babu said, that back in 1918 there was a lack of awareness, the dissemination between WHO to government, government to periphery was not channelised, there was a major issue of lack of infrastructure and resources.

Explaining the similarities, Dr Babu said,

The nature of the infection and the virus itself; the way it spreads in groups, in closed spaces, people who don’t wear masks. So, it’s a reflection of the behaviour of the people.

The experts believe that the world is better equipped to fight the Coronavirus pandemic and beat it.

Also Read: Precautions To Take Till Airborne Transmission Of COVID-19 Is Further Researched And WHO Assesses The ‘Emerging Evidence’

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


Coronavirus has spread to 193 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 17,59,54,708 and 38,03,804 have died; 5,81,66,715 are active cases and 11,39,84,189 have recovered as on June 14, 2021 at 3:36 am.


2,95,10,410 70,421Cases
2,81,62,947 1,19,501Recovered
3,74,305 3,921Deaths
In India, there are 2,95,10,410 confirmed cases including 3,74,305 deaths. The number of active cases is 9,73,158 and 2,81,62,947 have recovered as on June 14, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

59,08,992 10,442

1,58,617 167

56,39,271 7,504

1,11,104 2,771


27,65,134 7,810

1,80,856 10,961

25,51,365 18,646

32,913 125


27,28,239 11,584

1,23,433 6,478

25,93,625 17,856

11,181 206

Tamil Nadu

23,53,721 14,016

1,49,927 12,146

21,74,247 25,895

29,547 267

Andhra Pradesh

18,09,844 6,770

85,637 5,780

17,12,267 12,492

11,940 58

Uttar Pradesh

17,02,624 452

8,986 820

16,71,852 1,221

21,786 51

West Bengal

14,61,257 3,984

17,651 1,403

14,26,710 2,497

16,896 84


14,31,139 255

3,466 144

14,02,850 376

24,823 23


9,86,963 459

13,677 1,405

9,59,969 1,858

13,317 6


9,49,684 308

7,441 959

9,33,421 1,260

8,822 7


8,51,782 4,469

51,681 3,309

7,96,799 7,733

3,302 45


8,20,321 455

10,249 614

8,00,075 1,063

9,997 6

Madhya Pradesh

7,88,183 274

4,251 524

7,75,380 780

8,552 18


7,65,861 339

4,661 525

7,52,208 821

8,992 43


7,17,215 487

5,312 389

7,02,411 868

9,492 8


6,03,369 1,280

21,137 996

5,78,748 2,261

3,484 15


5,87,903 956

12,981 1,083

5,59,360 1,980

15,562 59


4,59,497 2,167

41,373 3,272

4,14,173 5,403

3,951 36


3,43,458 154

3,395 571

3,34,979 723

5,084 2


3,36,879 263

4,633 388

3,25,311 644

6,935 7

Jammu And Kashmir

3,07,412 774

15,081 1,203

2,88,145 1,965

4,186 12

Himachal Pradesh

1,98,550 237

4,777 625

1,90,382 855

3,391 7


1,62,468 420

4,882 175

1,54,658 581

2,928 14


1,12,528 402

5,331 414

1,05,513 809

1,684 7


61,110 54

520 20

59,798 71

792 3


59,852 530

8,499 211

50,379 726

974 15


59,321 235

5,170 382

53,531 610

620 7


41,906 305

4,623 248

36,550 547

733 6

Arunachal Pradesh

31,282 134

2,885 302

28,252 434

145 2


23,644 82

3,502 131

19,689 208

453 5


19,561 17

658 88

18,706 105



18,414 157

3,553 230

14,580 387



15,364 97

3,549 111

11,748 203

67 5

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,463 1

78 17

10,381 18



9,209 34

576 39

8,589 72

44 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,261 18

110 11

7,025 29


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