According to WHO, Covid-19 remains global health emergency, but the pandemic is at a “transition point”

The World Health Organization said on Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic is still a global health emergency, but that the pandemic is at a “transition point.”

WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee talked about the pandemic on Friday, and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus agreed with the committee’s decision that the international public health emergency of concern, or PHEIC, should continue.

In a statement released on Monday, WHO’s advisory committee said it wanted WHO to come up with “alternative mechanisms to keep the global and national focus on COVID-19 after the PHEIC is ended.”

“Achieving higher levels of population immunity globally, either through infection or vaccination, may lessen the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on morbidity and mortality, but there is little doubt that this virus will remain a permanent pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future. So, long-term steps to improve public health are very important,” the committee said in a statement on Monday. “Eliminating this virus from humans and animals is very unlikely, but reducing its terrible effects on morbidity and death is possible and should continue to be a top goal.”

In a list of temporary recommendations, Tedros said that countries should keep vaccinating people and add COVID-19 vaccines to routine care, improve disease surveillance, keep a strong health care system to avoid “a panic-neglect cycle,” keep fighting misinformation, and change international travel rules based on risk assessments.

In January 2020, the organization called the coronavirus outbreak an international public health emergency. This was about six weeks before it was called a pandemic.

When there is an international public health emergency, countries agree to follow the WHO’s advice on how to handle the situation. In turn, each country declares a public health emergency, which is a legal statement. Countries use them to pull together resources and bend rules to get out of a bind.

The United States is also still under its own public health emergency declaration, which Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed on January 11.

In the last eight weeks, COVID-19 has killed more than 170,000 people around the world, Tedros said last week when he announced the committee meeting.

He said that even though the world is better prepared to deal with the pandemic than it was three years ago, he is still “very worried about the situation in many countries and the rising number of deaths.”

Even though the number of COVID-19 deaths around the world is going up, the average number of deaths in a week is still much lower than it was earlier in the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Gayle Gordon

As a college student, making an extra buck now and then was very important. I started as a part-time reporter since I was 19 yo, and I couldn’t believe it might become a long-time career. I'm happy to be part of the Virginian Tribune's team.

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