Mankind is going to have to live with the coronavirus as it "may never go away," says WHO Emergency Chief, who is Irish.

Doctor Michael Ryan, the World Health Organization's Health Emergency Chief, originally from Sligo, has warned that COVID-19 "may never go away" and warned that mankind will have to learn to live with the disease, as we did with HIV.

On Wednesday, Ryan was asked at a Geneva press conference, how long it might take for the world to emerge on the other side of this coronavirus pandemic. 

He said, "I think it's 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."

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Ryan added, "HIV has not gone away, we've come to terms with the virus and we have found the therapies and we found the prevention methods and people don't feel as scared as they did before and we're offering life to people with HIV, long healthy lives to people with HIV."

The Irish surgeon emphasized that he was not comparing COVID-19 to HIV, but only used the analogy to illustrate that nobody "can predict when or if this disease will disappear."

He also commented on the fact that politicians have continually given an estimate of 12 months before a vaccine is found. 

He said, "We have a new virus entering the human population therefore it is very hard to predict when we will prevail over it."

Ryan also commented on the fact that the number of people infected, globally, "is actually relatively low". He said projections on when the COVID-19 virus could abate might be in the absence of a vaccine. 

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As of Thursday, there are over four million active cases of the coronavirus globally. There have been over 300k deaths and over 1.6 million recoveries from the disease. The United States accounts for over 1.4 million of these active cases while there have been over 85k deaths. 

Ryan's comments come as countries around the world, including Ireland and the United States, are faced with a balancing act between economic stability and containing the coronavirus. 

You can watch the entire WHO press briefing from May 14 here. Dr. Ryan's comments begin at 1:00:45:

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