FILE PHOTO. © Reuters / Leah Millis
WHO warns Covid-19 may ‘never go away’ as Trump clashes with Fauci over US reopening
After meeting with governors of Colorado and North Dakota in the White House on Wednesday, Trump said he won’t consider any state fully open until the schools are back up and running.
“I think you should absolutely open the schools. Our country has got to get back and it’s got to get back as soon as possible, and I don’t consider our country coming back if the schools are closed,” Trump said.
On Tuesday, however, his chief epidemiologist Dr Anthony Fauci argued before the Senate that opening the schools this fall might be premature, saying that children might be affected by the virus after all.
“He wants to play all sides of the equation,” Trump said when asked about Fauci’s testimony. “I was surprised by his answer, actually, because, you know, it’s just to me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.”
Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) – a physician who recovered from the virus himself – also clashed with the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the hearing, criticizing Fauci for offering advice based on models that ended up being wrong.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization essentially backed Fauci’s position on Wednesday, urging against prematurely relaxing the lockdowns or hoping that the pandemic will peter out.
“It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said in a news briefing. “I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear.”
“We need to get into the mindset that it is going to take some time to come out of this pandemic,” said epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove.
It is unlikely Trump and his administration will be swayed by the WHO, having accused the organization of siding with China in suppressing information about the virus and halting all US funding earmarked for it.
First officially recorded in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, the virus has infected almost 4.3 million people across the globe, and nearly 300,000 deaths have been attributed to it. It has spread to almost every corner of the world despite the harsh lockdown measures that have led to mass unemployment and economic disruptions.