The World Health Organization (WHO) said that it is "unrealistic" to expect the Covid-19 pandemic to be over by the end of 2021.
"I think it will be very premature, and I think unrealistic, to think that we're going to finish with this virus by the end of the year," Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said at a press conference here on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.
"But I think what we can, if we're smart, finish with the hospitalizations, the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic," he said.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the WHO, added that "the goal of COVAX is to bring an end to the acute phase of the pandemic by the end of 2021."
COVAX is a program led by the WHO, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) aiming at distributing Covid-19 vaccines around the world.
"We still face a huge challenge in rolling out vaccines equitably and fairly to those who most need them around the world," Ryan said.
"We're in a much better position than we were. But nothing is guaranteed," he added.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 256 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 74 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the WHO on February 26.