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The Global COVID Health Emergency Is Over?

The Global COVID Health Emergency Is Over?

Photo by cottonbro studio via Pexels

The World Health Organization makes a declaration on the state of the pandemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has ended the global emergency status for COVID-19 more than three years after its original declaration.

The decision comes after the WHO Emergency Committee met and recommended the United Nations organization declare an end to the coronavirus crisis as a "public health emergency of international concern." This alert has been in place since January 30, 2020. The COVID death rate has slowed significantly, reflecting widespread vaccination, availability of better treatments, and a level of population immunity from prior infections.

"It is therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, according to Reuters. He added that the end of the emergency did not mean the end of a global health threat.

The decision comes four months after China ended its prolonged severe COVID restrictions, which was followed by a surge of infections. Additionally, COVID will remain a significant concern for people living with HIV and others who are immunocompromised.

"In most cases, pandemics truly end when the next pandemic begins," said WHO's Emergencies Director Michael Ryan.

Although the end of the emergency could mean that international collaboration or funding efforts are brought to an end or shift in focus, WHO's advisers believe that COVID will continue to challenge health systems worldwide long term. "No one should take (this) to mean COVID-19 is no longer a problem," said Mark Woolhouse, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh. "It is still a significant public health problem and looks likely to remain one for the foreseeable future."

The WHO also published a plan advising countries on how to live with longer-term COVID. WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, urged countries to reflect on lessons learned during the pandemic. "We can't forget those fire pyres. We can't forget the graves that were dug. None of us up here will forget them," she said.

"The battle is not over,” said Ryan. “We still have weaknesses and those weaknesses that we still have in our system will be exposed by this virus or another virus. And it needs to be fixed."

Director-General Tedros also warned that he would not hesitate to convene another emergency committee should COVID-19 once again put the world in peril.

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