The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared today that, after over three years, COVID-19 is no longer a health emergency. This doesn’t mean that COVID-19 has magically vanished, but the WHO has considered reducing the level of alarm connected to the disease.
Thanks to immunization via vaccines and infections, the pandemic has been on a downward trend. Mortality has decreased and the pressure on health facilities has relented. These data have informed the WHO Emergency Committee's decision to no longer consider it an emergency, moving COVID to the level of "health threat".
“It is therefore with great hope that I declare #COVID19 over as a global health emergency. However, that does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in an announcement.
Many countries returned to business as usual before the level of infections was low enough to guarantee the safety of the most vulnerable. And in fact, COVID infections continue and new variants continue to appear, spread, and unfortunately kill.
“Last week, COVID-19 claimed a life every three minutes – and that’s just the deaths we know about,” Dr Tedros continued in a statement to the media. "As we speak, thousands of people around the world are fighting for their lives in intensive care units. And millions more continue to live with the debilitating effects of post-COVID-19 condition."
The head of the WHO called for continued vigilance against this disease that now lives among us, taking the unprecedented step of establishing a Review Committee to develop COVID-19 management strategies on an ongoing basis.
The change in status is not for countries to pretend that COVID-19 is gone, but to manage the disease alongside the other infectious pathogens present around us. COVID remains dangerous and it is important that this knowledge remains clear for all.