During the final World Health Organization (WHO) press conference of 2020, one official shared a pretty surprising message about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO emergencies program, described the ongoing situation as a “wake-up call” on emergency preparedness for countries around the world.

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It's affected every corner of this planet — but this is not necessarily 'the big one.' Mike Ryan

"It may come as a shock to people that this pandemic has been very severe… it's spread around the world extremely quickly,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference on December 28, Ryan acknowledged the COVID-19 pandemic has affected “every corner of this planet,” but warned that it may not be the biggest pandemic to come.

The official said that while the illness is very contagious and has killed a significant number of people, its fatality rate remains "reasonably low in comparison to other emerging diseases."

It’s a message backed up by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who shared a similar statement on Sunday, per CTV News.

"As we strive to control and recover from the current pandemic, we must think about the next," he said.  

"Unfortunately, it is easy to imagine a virus just as infectious but even more lethal."

While COVID-19 vaccines have now arrived in Canada and distribution has started, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said the fight against the illness is not yet over.