WHO declares end of COVID-19 global health emergency

Press play to listen to this article

Voiced by artificial intelligence.

COVID-19 is no longer an international public health emergency, the World Health Organization decided on Friday, marking a major turning point in the global response to the crisis that has killed nearly 7 million people and some 65 million cases of long COVID.

It’s been more than three years since the global health body announced the removal of the highest alert level made before On January 30, 2020, when COVID-19 broke out of China and public health officials around the world became increasingly alarmed at what they were seeing.

At the time, the official death toll was just 171. NOW, WHO Estimate Over 6.9 million deaths – more than the total population of Denmark. The region accounts for nearly a third of the people in Europe with nearly 2.2 million people who have died from COVID-19.

The decision by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday came after a recommendation from a committee of global health experts found that the situation no longer met the criteria to be classified as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Does Tedros said it was “with great hope” that he declared COVID-19 a global health emergency.

While there is no formally accepted definition of a pandemic, a public health emergency of international concern is an official designation that triggers certain actions and recommendations under the International Health Regulations on Surveillance, Reporting and Response. Declarations are made for events that are sudden, have implications for public health beyond one country and require immediate international action.

“For more than a year the pandemic has been on a downward trend with increasing population immunity from vaccination and infection,” Tedros said.

However he warned that the worst thing any country can do is to let down its guard or send the message to its citizens that COVID-19 is “nothing to worry about.”

downward trend

Global cases and deaths from COVID-19 have mostly declined in recent weeks, and are a small fraction of what they were during the worst waves of the pandemic.

But even as cases and deaths declined, the WHO has been reluctant to remove the emergency label, after the committee found at a January meeting that the number of deaths from COVID-19 was still high compared to other infectious respiratory diseases And there was uncertainty about the emergence. Variant.

With many countries no longer routinely testing for the virus, it is hard to estimate the total caseload, but more than 765 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported globally, more than any other WHO region in Europe. 276 million more have been recorded.

The lack of testing means that surveillance of the virus has reduced significantly. it’s part of the reason for a New Preparedness and Response Plan From WHO, which was published on 3 May. It sets out objectives for countries to move from crisis response to long-term management of COVID-19, noting that in all likelihood, health systems will have to grapple with the virus for years to come.

Even though cases and deaths have declined, the WHO has been reluctant to remove the emergency label Mehdi Fedouch/AFP via Getty Images

Tedros said, “COVID-19 is much more than a health crisis.” “It has caused severe economic turmoil, wiping trillions from GDP, disrupting travel and trade, closing businesses and plunging millions into poverty.”

Tedros said the poorest and most vulnerable communities were the hardest hit and were “the last to get access to vaccines and equipment.”

The World Health Organization is now setting up a review committee that will develop long-term standing recommendations for countries on how to manage COVID-19 on an ongoing basis.

Following the announcement, Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the vaccine alliance, said that “the world is ready to move to the next phase.” “But while today is a historic milestone, we must also be clear about the need to protect our most vulnerable, just as we do for other deadly but preventable diseases,” he said.