AAfter three long years, the COVID-19 global health emergency is over.

So says the World Health Organization, which made the statement on May 5. WHO is the only agency responsible for coordinating the global response to health threats. While the coronavirus pandemic is not entirely over, the recent surge in cases in Southeast Asia and the Middle East is no longer a global emergency, the WHO said.

WHO downgrades COVID-19 from global emergency

This marks a major milestone in the virus’s history. The announcement comes more than three years after the start of the pandemic in early 2020, when 1,124,063 people in the United States died from confirmed cases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2022, COVID-19 will be the fourth leading cause of death. Globally, the pandemic has triggered several social and economic disruptions, including widespread supply and food shortages.

But the rapid decline in cases has led the WHO to call for an end to the epidemic. After declaring the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization began calling it a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

“This trend has returned most countries to life as we knew it before COVID-19. I am hopeful in declaring COVID-19 a global health emergency,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Tedros told a news conference that the pandemic has been on a consistent downward trend for more than a year. The director-general, in a fierce battle with countries hoarding COVID-19 vaccines, warned of a “catastrophic moral failure”, a departure from the tone set at the height of the pandemic.

“This doesn’t mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat,” he added. “This virus is here to stay. It’s still killing, it’s still changing.”

When the United Nations first declared COVID-19 an international crisis in January 2020, there were no major outbreaks outside China. Three years later, however, the virus has caused an estimated 764 million cases worldwide and killed more than 6 million people worldwide. Millions of others report that they are still suffering from the long-term effects of the virus.

Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said, “There is still a public health threat, and we all see that, in terms of the evolution of this virus, in terms of its global presence, it continues in our communities every day. evolution and continued vulnerability, including societal vulnerability, age vulnerability, protection vulnerability and many others. We therefore fully expect the virus to continue to spread.”

WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, warned that COVID-19 could still be a threat.

“While we are not in crisis mode, we cannot let our guard down,” Van Kerkhove said. The disease “is here to stay.”

According to the World Health Organization, more than 13 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally.

The WHO decision to end the state of emergency comes days before the US declaration of a public health emergency expires on May 11. The expiration of the U.S. public health emergency will mark the end of a slew of stepped-up pandemic responses, including some vaccine mandates and free testing.

The WHO has been controversial in some quarters since the pandemic began. The group is considered by many to be a contributor to its longevity and seriousness. It is embroiled in the politically thorny issue of the origin of the virus, which may include a Chinese laboratory.

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After a visit to China in 2021, the WHO released a report arguing that COVID-19 may have come from animals, but quickly backtracked, saying “critical data” were still missing, thus acknowledging that it may have originated from a laboratory leak.

In January 2020, WHO praised China’s swift and transparent response.Also, access to private sessions Associated Press It showed senior officials’ frustration with China’s lack of cooperation on the issue.

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