Coronavirus is ten times deadlier than swine flu and the only way to halt it is with a vaccine, the World Health Organisation has declared.
So far Covid-19 has claimed the lives of almost 115,000 people and resulted in more than 1.8million cases across the world.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, told a virtual briefing from Geneva the organisation was constantly learning about the bug sweeping the globe and that it is worse than the swine flu pandemic that swept around the world in 2009.
He said: “We know that Covid-19 spreads fast, and we know that it is deadly, ten times deadlier than the 2009 flu pandemic.”
He added that some countries are seeing cases double every three to four days, but they were committed to ‘early case-finding, testing, isolating (and) caring for every case and tracing every contact’ they could to tackle the virus.
Tedros said that while Covid-19 had accelerated quickly, ‘it decelerates much more slowly’.
More than half of the planet’s population is currently on lockdown in the global fight to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Tedros said: “Control measures can only be lifted if the right public health measures are in place, including significant capacity for contact tracing.”
WHO acknowledged that despite the current measures in place it was ‘ultimately, the development and delivery of a safe and effective vaccine will be needed to fully interrupt transmission’.
A vaccine is said to be between a year and 18 months away.
Coronavirus has so far has killed 11,329 people in England and Wales but the figure is expected to increase by at east 15% as it does not include deaths in care homes.
According to WHO figures, coronavirus has currently killed 6.4 per cent of people who have tested positive for it, including 12 per cent of those in Britain, 0.1 per cent in Australia and 4 per cent in the US.
But swine flu claimed the lives of just 1.1 per cent of those who contracted it across the world.
In the UK the death rate stood at 0.03 per cent, whereas it was 0.2 per cent in the US and 0.5 per cent in Australia.
The WHO claims 18,500 people died of swine flu, which was first found in Mexico and the US in March 2009, but the Lancet disputes the figure saying the death rate was somewhere between 151,700 and 575,400.The Lancet review included estimated deaths in Africa and Southeast Asia that were not included by WHO.