COVID-19 no longer represents a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, a major step towards the end of the pandemic that contributed to the death of more than 6.9 million people, and the disruption of the global economy.
“Yesterday, the Emergency Committee met for the 15th time and recommended to me that I declare an end to the public health emergency of international concern. I’ve accepted that advice. It’s therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨
"Yesterday, the Emergency Committee met for the 15th time and recommended to me that I declare an end to the public health emergency of international concern. I have accepted that advice"-@DrTedros #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/esKKKOb1TZ
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 5, 2023
The WHO’s emergency committee declared that COVID-19 represented a global health emergency more than three years ago, on January 30, 2020. The status helps focus international attention on a single health threat, as well as bolsters collaboration on vaccines and treatments.
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Lifting it is a sign of the progress the world has made in these areas, but COVID-19 is here to stay, the WHO has said, even if it no longer represents an emergency.
The death rate has slowed from a peak of more than 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 in the week to April 24, according to WHO data.
Last year, U.S. President Joe Biden said the pandemic was over. Like a number of other countries, the world’s biggest economy has begun dismantling its domestic state of emergency for COVID-19, meaning it will stop paying for measures like vaccines.