The Covid-19 pandemic, which claimed millions of lives and caused enormous economic and social damage, is no longer a global health emergency, the WHO declared on Friday while issuing a caution that the threat still exists.
According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation, “with great hope I declare Covid-19 over as a global health emergency.”
It was decided to make the change by the WHO’s independent emergency committee on the Covid issue, which also “advised that it is time to transition to long-term management of the COVID-19 pandemic” after deciding the situation no longer required the organization’s highest alert level.
On January 30, 2020, the UN health agency issued the first PHEIC (public health emergency of international concern) about the catastrophe.
Fewer than 100 cases and no fatalities had been reported outside of China at that time, which was weeks after the mysterious new viral disease was initially identified there. But many nations didn’t become aware of the threat until Tedros referred to the deteriorating Covid scenario as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
The SARS CoV-2 virus, which causes the illness, had already started its lethal global escalation by that point.
“One of the greatest tragedies of Covid-19 is that it didn’t have to be this way,” Tedros said, decrying that “a lack of coordination, a lack of equity and a lack of solidarity” meant “lives were lost that should not have been”.
Vaccines, which were developed at record speed and started rolling out by late 2020, remain effective at preventing severe disease and death, despite new and more infectious Covid variants that have appeared.
To date, 13.3 billion doses of Covid vaccines have been administered, with 82 percent of adults over 60 having received the initial jabs.