COVID-19 Coronavirus / WHO on "Pandemics"
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WHO: Now is the time to prepare. We're in a phase of preparedness for a potential pandemic.

WHO Feb. 24 press conference on COVID-19 [video] - World Health Organization (WHO), February 24, 2020.

“Pan Demos is a concept where there’s a belief that the whole world’s population would likely be exposed to this infection and potentially a proportion of them falls sick, and as we’ve seen it in influenza. It occurs in different waves.

So pandemics of influenza can be sometimes called a lot earlier because we’ve had previous pandemics and we know with influenza that when there’s highly efficient community transmission (as we see with seasonal flu) that the disease does spread around the world. And it’s been proven time and time again. So it’s much easier to say that a pandemic will occur in an influenza situation.

What we don’t understand, yet in Covid-19 are the absolute transmission dynamics. Look what’s happened in China, we’ve seen a significant drop in cases, huge pressure placed on the virus and a sequential decrease in the number of cases. That goes against the logic of pandemic.

Yet, we seen in contrast to that an acceleration of cases in places like Korea. And, therefore, we’re still in balance.

Now it’s the time to prepare. We’re in a phase of preparedness for a potential pandemic.

That doesn’t stop anyone doing what they need to do. We’ve had enough countries now import disease. It’s is time to prepare.

It is time to do everything you would do in preparing for a pandemic. But in declaring something a pandemic it’s too early.

We’re still trying to avoid that reality, we’re still trying to avoid that eventuality and countries are having success in doing that.

So let’s focus on what we can do, what we need to do which is prepare. When we mean prepare we mean to detect cases, prepare to treat cases, prepare to follow contacts, prepare to put in place adequate containment measures. It’s not a hundred different measures there are probably 5 or 6 key interventions.”


"All countries are vulnerable because all countries have two things. All countries have vulnerable populations, people within, (no matter how developed their economy is) there are many, many older people with underlying conditions who may be negatively impacted if this virus arrives and spreads.

Secondly, many of our health systems even in the most developed countries, in fact, very often in the most developed countries are operating at nearly 100% efficiency or impact all the time. You don’t see many extra beds in hospitals in Europe so the problem for the European countries and other countries in the developed world is that the health systems may come under a lot of extra pressure. We see that with the seasonal influenza every winter. But slowing down the virus, even now slowing down the virus spreading in Europe in order for the flu season to end will free up significant capacity in the health system. Even Slowing down the virus by a month or six week will have a massive positive benefit to the system.

But all systems have vulnerabilities. But when it comes to movement, there is no zero risk. We cannot shut down the world. Everyone can close their borders and everyone can say there’s no movement but that’s not going to work because disease can spread between nations. What we need to focus on is risk management.

Reducing the risks of disease importation, reducing the risk of disease transmission, increasing the survival of patients who get sick and understand that this virus may come and it may cause outbreaks and epidemics in any number of countries but they can be managed, they can be dealt with. I think we have to be very careful in suggesting that we can absolutely stop this virus from spreading from one country to the next. I don’t think that’s possible."


Mike Ryan, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme [1]



  1. WHO Feb. 24 press conference on COVID-19 [video] - World Health Organization (WHO), February 24, 2020.

Useful info

  1. What is a pandemic? - WHO Definition of Pandemic - WHO official website.