August 5, 2020 -- No singular thing will stop the spread of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization’s director-general said Monday.
“There’s no silver bullet at the moment, and there might never be,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MD, told reporters.
The WHO declared the coronavirus pandemic a global health emergency more than six months ago. At that time, fewer than 100 cases had been reported across the world. Now more than 18 million cases and nearly 700,000 deaths have been recorded, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
“For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control,” he said. “Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all.”
Although several vaccine candidates have entered late-stage clinical trials, widespread vaccine distribution likely won’t occur for some time, he said. Many countries will need to continue certain practices, such as wearing masks and social distancing, for some time to come.
“Keep safeguards and monitoring in place because lifting restrictions too quickly can lead to a resurgence,” Tedros said.
The WHO launched a mask challenge this week to encourage people to send in photos of themselves wearing a mask. Public health officials and elected leaders should encourage others to carry a mask with them at all times and to use it in public places, he said.
“As well as being one of the key tools to stop the virus, the mask has come to represent solidarity,” Tedros said. “By wearing a mask, you’re sending a powerful message to those around you that we are all in this together.”