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WHO declares end to global health emergency status for COVID.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that COVID-19 no longer represents a global health emergency, marking a significant milestone in the fight against the pandemic that has killed over 6.9 million people and had a major impact on the global economy. The WHO’s Emergency Committee met on Thursday and recommended the end of the public health emergency of international concern, which has been in place for more than three years. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, ‘It is, therefore, with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,’ although he added that the end of the emergency did not mean COVID was over as a global health threat.

 

The emergency committee declared COVID-19 as the WHO’s highest level of alert in January 2020, a status that helps focus international attention on a health threat and bolster collaboration on vaccines and treatments. Lifting it is a sign of progress in these areas, but COVID-19 is still present and poses a threat. Ghebreyesus said, ‘COVID has changed the world, and it has changed us. And that’s the way it should be. If we go back to how things were before COVID-19, we will have failed to learn our lessons, and failed our future generations.’

 

Although the death rate has slowed significantly, with just over 3,500 people dying from COVID in the week to April 24, 2023, according to WHO data, the organization cautioned that COVID-19 is here to stay. The WHO does not declare the beginning or end of pandemics, although it started using the term for COVID in March 2020.

 

The end of the global health emergency status could mean that international collaboration or funding efforts are brought to an end or shift in focus. Many regions have already adapted their pandemic response as COVID-19 has receded in different areas. The European Union declared the emergency phase of the pandemic was over in April last year, and the WHO’s African head said in December 2022 it was time to move to routine management of COVID across the continent.

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