After 500,000 deaths, WHO warns worst of coronavirus pandemic is “yet to come”

Six months since the new coronavirus outbreak, the pandemic is still far from over, the World Health Organization said Monday, warning that “the worst is yet to come.” Reaching the half-year milestone just as the death toll surpassed 500,000 and the number of confirmed infections topped 10 million, the WHO said it was a moment to recommit to the fight to save lives.

“Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world — and our lives — would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing.

“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over,” he said. “Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.”

Tedros added that ” we’re all in this for the long haul.”

“We will need even greater stores of resilience, patience, humility and generosity in the months ahead,” he said. “We have already lost so much — but we cannot lose hope.”

Tedros also said that the pandemic had brought out the best and worst humanity, citing acts of kindness and solidarity, but also misinformation and the politicization of the virus.

In an atmosphere of global political division and fractures on a national level, “the worst is yet to come. I’m sorry to say that,” he said.

“With this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst.”

The WHO is sending a team to China next week in connection with the search for the origin of the virus that sparked the global pandemic.

The organisation has been pressing China since early May to invite in its experts to help investigate the animal origins of the coronavirus.

“We can fight the virus better when we know everything about the virus, including how it started,” Tedros said. “We will be sending a team next week to China to prepare for that and we hope that that will lead into understanding how the virus started.”

He did not specify the make-up of the team, nor what specifically their mission would consist of.

Scientists believe the virus jumped from animals to humans, possibly from a market in Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat.