Who did and said what and when…

David Ritchie, author of "Time's Up! What Brought Us To This?" published by GB Publishing, decided to produce a time-line of the events surrounding the pandemic of 2020 for the benefit of future historians and those likely to be involved in enquiries regarding the handling by the government, its advisers and officials, etc.

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When will it end?

The director-general of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – an Ethiopian microbiologist and politician who has held the post since 1st July 2017 – said on 21st August (2020) that the COVID-19 pandemic could be under control in less than two years – “especially if we can pool our efforts”.

The first non-physician to head the organisation, he completed a Master of Science degree in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 1992 and in 2000 was awarded a PhD in community health from the University of Nottingham for research investigating the effects of dams on the transmission of malaria in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

He drew comparisons between the COVID-19 pandemic– which he called a once-in-a-century health crisis – and the 1918 flu pandemic, saying technology could help end the spread.

“We have a disadvantage of globalisation, closeness, connectedness, but an advantage of better technology, so we hope to finish this pandemic before less than two years,” he told reporters. “By utilising the available tools to the maximum and hoping that we can have additional tools like vaccines, I think we can finish it in a shorter time than the 1918 flu,” he said.

He made his comments as the WHO recommended that children over 12 use masks in the same situations as adults as the use of face coverings increases to stop the virus spread. In fresh guidelines developed in co-operation with UNICEF, it said children should wear “a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a one-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area”.

The D-G also said that corruption around the supply of medical safety gear was tantamount to “murder”, by depriving health workers treating COVID-19 patients of the protection they need. “If health workers work without PPE they are risking their lives, and that also risks the lives of the people they serve,” he said.

It was reported on the same day as the WHO leader made his comments that confirmed cases of COVID-19 had reached 22.8 million, with deaths at 797,000. Three months later the number of cases reported world-wide had passed 60.5 million with around 1.42 million deaths, about 56,000 of them in the UK where the response continued to be muddled and the government was at odds with its principal scientific and medical advisers.

WHO’s head of emergencies, Dr Michael Ryan, commented that the 1918 pandemic hit the globe in three distinct waves and that the second wave, which started during the autumn of 1918, was the most devastating.


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