The agency said several European cities could soon see their intensive care units overwhelmed and warned that governments and citizens should take all necessary measures to slow the spread of the virus, including bolstering testing and contact tracing, wearing face masks and following social distancing measures.
WHO has previously estimated about 1 in 10 of the world’s population — about 780 million people — have been infected with COVID-19, more than 20 times the official number of cases. That suggests most of the world’s population is still susceptible to the virus.
The U.N. health agency said it hopes there might be enough data to determine if any of the COVID-19 vaccines now being tested are effective by the end of the year. But it warned that first-generation vaccines are unlikely to provide complete protection and that it could take at least two years to bring the pandemic under control.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.