WHO Says COVID-19 is no Longer a Global Health Emergency

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The coronavirus pandemic is over a global health emergency, World Health Organization said. Millions of people have died of COVID over the past three years.

The World Health Organization ended the Covid-19 global health emergency on Friday, saying it was time for countries to transition from treating Covid as an emergency to dealing with it as a disease that is here to stay.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who made the announcement, estimated that the pandemic had killed "at least 20 million" people. That figure is nearly three times more than the confirmed numbers.

The decision was made on the advice of a panel of independent experts, the so-called Covid-19 emergency committee, which met on Thursday.

“It’s with great hope that I declare Covid-19 over as a global health emergency,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference from Geneva. He warned, though, that the threat the virus causes remains.
The Covid-19 Public Health Emergency of International Concern has been in effect since Jan. 30, 2020. Since the start of the pandemic.

“Covid has changed our world and it has changed us,” Tedros said. “If we all go back to the way we were before Covid-19, we will have failed to learn its lessons and we will have failed future generations.”

Tedros and other WHO officials emphasized that while they were ending the PHEIC, the pandemic is not over. The WHO does not declare the start of a pandemic and it will not declare an end to it either. Still, a Covid-weary world will likely interpret this announcement that way.

“The emergency phase … is over, but Covid is here to stay,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s Covid technical lead.

Didier Houssin, the chair of the emergency committee, said the decision to recommend an end to the PHEIC was in part due to the belief that the tool was not adapted to disease events that are sub-acute or chronic. Houssin acknowledged that the decision of the emergency committee was not unanimous, with two or three members expressing hesitancy about ending the PHEIC at this time.

The WHO’s declaration comes days before the U.S. public health emergency will expire, on May 11