Transparency and Integrity


#Covid-19 No Longer A Public Health Emergency — WHO


World Health Organization WHO Announces End To COVID-19 As Global Health Emergency.

... Says It No Longer Constitutes Public Health Emergency Of International Concern. 

COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, the Director-Director of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said on Friday.

This is coming after more than three years of declaring the outbreak to be a PHEIC in January 2020, about six weeks before characterising it as a pandemic.

The WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee discussed the pandemic at its 15th meeting on COVID-19, and it decided that PHEIC declaration should come to an end.

“The Committee’s position has been evolving over the last several months. While acknowledging the remaining uncertainties posed by potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2, they advised that it is time to transition to long-term management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The WHO Director-General concurs with the advice offered by the Committee regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He determines that COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue which no longer constitutes a PHEIC.

“The WHO Director-General considered the advice provided by the Committee regarding the proposed Temporary Recommendations and issued them as per the below statement. The WHO Director-General will convene an IHR Review Committee to advise on Standing Recommendations for the long-term management of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, taking into account the 2023-2025 COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. During this transition, States Parties are advised to continue following the issued Temporary Recommendations. The Director-General expressed his sincere gratitude to the Chair, the Members, and the Advisors of the Committee for their engagement and advice during the last three years,” the press statement made available to our correspondent read in part.

The global health body said while the global risk assessment remains high, there is evidence of reducing risks to human health driven mainly by high population-level immunity from infection, vaccination, or both; consistent virulence of currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 Omicron sub-lineages compared to previously circulating Omicron sub-lineages; and improved clinical case management.

“These factors have contributed to a significant global decline in the weekly number of COVID-19-related deaths, hospitalizations, and admissions to intensive care units since the beginning of the pandemic. While SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve, the currently circulating variants do not appear to be associated with increased severity.

“WHO provided updates on the status of global vaccination and considerations of implications for the potential termination of a PHEIC. The Committee was informed that, globally, 13.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. Currently, 89 per cent of health workers and 82 per cent of adults over 60 years have completed the primary series (the initial one or two doses recommended as per the vaccine schedule), although coverage in these priority groups varies in different regions.

“As requested by the Committee, the WHO Secretariat provided overviews of the status of integration of COVID-19 surveillance into the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System and opportunities to streamline this; the process for issuing Standing Recommendations under the IHR; and the potential regulatory implications for Emergency Use Listed when a PHEIC is terminated. “As the Director-General will continue to authorize the use of EUL procedure, the termination of the PHEIC should not affect access to vaccines and diagnostics that have already received a EUL. States Parties will still be able to access these vaccines and diagnostics (provided the manufacturers continue production).”

It noted that COVAX will also continue to provide funded doses and delivery support throughout 2023 in line with demand.

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