The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday that the Covid-19 pandemic is no longer a global health emergency after its International Health Regulations Emergency Committee discussed the issue at its 15th meeting on Covid-19.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus agreed with the recommendation from the committee to end the public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) declaration.
Tedros noted that the pandemic has been on a downward trend for more than a year, allowing most countries to return to life as it was before Covid-19. He also pointed out that each country has declared its own public health emergency, and these declarations carry legal weight, allowing countries to marshal resources and waive rules to manage the crisis.
However, WHO officials also emphasized that Covid-19 continues to spread, and the virus is evolving and remains a global health threat, although at a lower level of concern. Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, acknowledged that there are still societal, age, and protection vulnerabilities that can make individuals more susceptible to the virus.
While the end of the PHEIC does not mean the end of the pandemic, it reflects a shift in the way the WHO will deal with the crisis going forward. The organization will continue to monitor the spread of Covid-19 and provide guidance to countries on how to manage it.
In the United States, the Covid-19 public health emergency is set to end on May 11, as the country's vaccination program continues to make progress. However, experts have cautioned that the pandemic is far from over and that individuals should continue to follow public health guidelines, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing.