Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), have announced that COVID no longer qualifies as a global emergency. This marks a symbolic end of the pandemic.
Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, WHO director-general, said: “I declare COVID-19 to be over as a global emergency of health.” “That doesn’t mean COVID-19 has ended as a global threat.”
He warned that new variants could still be developed.
He acknowledged that the majority of countries had already recovered from COVID.
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Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized the COVID’s damage to the global community. He said the virus had destroyed businesses and sent millions into poverty.
WHO decided to lower the highest level of alert on Thursday after convening a group of experts. The UN agency does not “declare pandemics” but used the term in March 2020 to describe an outbreak, many months after other scientists said that a pandemic had already begun.
In May of last year, WHO experts stated that the end was ‘in sight’ and published policy briefs to be followed by governments on infection control testing vaccination and misinformation.
The NHS COVID App was turned off last month and will be completely discontinued on 16 May.
COVID is no longer a global emergency but the virus has not disappeared
Declaring that COVID no longer constitutes a global public health emergency is a historic moment.
This can be viewed as an official announcement of the end to a pandemic which in just three years has killed more than seven million people and sickened billions.
It is a formality. When the WHO declares an International Public Health Emergency (PHEIC), it requires that countries report official statistics, take measures to protect travellers and citizens, and conduct surveillance of the virus.
The decision is unlikely to have a significant impact on the UK or other countries.
In places with under-resourced healthcare systems, this could allow them to focus on other diseases such as HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. These have been ongoing threats throughout the pandemic. 650,000 HIV patients died in 2021 alone.
In the same month, the Office for National Statistics announced that COVID is no longer one of England and Wales’s top causes of death.
Professor Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at the UK Health Security Agency said:
The World Health Organisation has decided to stop COVID-19 from being a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This is due to the effective vaccinations, treatments and other measures that have reduced the risk of serious disease and death caused by infection.
We are prepared to respond to any future increase in risk.
COVID has been declared a global pandemic since 11 March 2020. This has led to lockdowns, travel restrictions and other measures around the globe.
Since then, there have been six million deaths caused by COVID worldwide.
Around five billion people worldwide have received a minimum of one dose vaccine.