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WHO chief hopes coronavirus pandemic will last less than two years

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be shorter than the 1918 Spanish flu and last less than two years, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday, if the world unites and succeeds in finding a vaccine.

The WHO has always been cautious about giving estimates on how quickly the pandemic can be dealt with while there is no proven vaccine.

Tedros said the 1918 Spanish flu “took two years to stop”.

“And in our situation now with more technology, and of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading, it can move fast because we are more connected now,” he told a briefing in Geneva.

“But at the same time we have also the technology to stop it and the knowledge to stop it. So we have a disadvantage of globalisation, closeness, connectedness but an advantage of better technology.

“So we hope to finish this pandemic (in) less than two years.”

He urged “national unity” and “global solidarity”.

“That is really key with utilising the available tools to the maximum and hoping that we can have additional tools like vaccine.”

More than 22.81 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally since it was first identified in China last year and 793,382 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Michael Shields and Jo Mason; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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