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Global Times

COVID-19 may continue till mid-2021: China's top epidemiologist

Global Times

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/20 15:04:18

The global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is likely to continue until the first half of 2021 even if vaccines become available, predicted Zhang Wenhong, a prominent Chinese infectious disease expert and leader of Shanghai's COVID-19 medical team.

The global pandemic is still spreading with the number of confirmed cases expected to surpass 10 million over the next 10 days, Zhang wrote on his Twitter-like Weibo on Saturday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the 150,000 global COVID-19 cases confirmed on Thursday was the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.

Despite the serious global pandemic situation, some countries have varied virus-fighting policies and containment methods, Zhang wrote.

While China is accelerating its epidemic control in Beijing, some countries with serious pandemic situations have gradually relaxed their restrictions under economic pressures, which has brought the global pandemic great uncertainty, he said.

In Brazil, confirmed cases reached over 1.03 million with 48,954 deaths as of Friday local time, second only to the US. The number of Brazil's newly confirmed cases hit a new single-day high of 54,771 on Friday.

In India, authorities are asking some industries to work at full capacity while the number of infected cases keeps growing. "We have to learn to live with the virus," said the Indian government, urging people to make COVID-19 prevention guidelines a part of their lives, the Times of India reported on May 8.

The US reported more than 27,700 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday local time. Its seven-day average of cases surged by over 15 percent compared with a week ago, suggesting the situation there is far from optimistic.

In countries that have a shortage of medical resources, vulnerable groups of COVID-19 patients such as the elderly and those with underlying diseases may face an "extremely high risk of death," Zhang warned. He estimated that before the result of Phase III clinical trials of vaccines is completed, some countries with serious epidemic situations may allow emergency use of vaccines that have proved effective in Phase II clinical trials.

Zhang suggested China should remain cautious about the pandemic until the end of the global pandemic, and continue advocating wearing masks in public place and maintaining good personal hygiene.

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