WHO says Covid-19 remains a global health emergency, but pandemic is at a ‘transition point’


The World Health Organization said on Monday that Covid-19 remains a global health emergency, but acknowledged that the pandemic is at a “transition point”.

The WHO’s Emergency Committee for International Health Regulations discussed the pandemic on Friday at its 14th meeting on Covid-19, and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus agreed that the Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, should continue.

In a statement released on Monday, the WHO advisory committee called on the WHO to “propose alternative mechanisms to maintain a global and national focus on COVID-19 after the termination of PHEIC”.

Achieving higher levels of population immunity globally, either through infection and/or vaccination, may limit the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on morbidity and mortality, but there is no doubt that this virus is a persistent pathogen in humans and Animals will remain. Thus, long-term public health measures are urgently needed for the foreseeable future.” While eliminating the virus from human and animal reservoirs is highly unlikely, reducing its devastating effects on mortality is achievable and should It remains a priority goal.

In a list of interim recommendations, Tedros said countries should continue vaccinating people and include Covid-19 vaccines in routine care. improved disease surveillance; maintain a strong health care system to avoid the “panic-neglect cycle”; Keep fighting misinformation. and adjust international travel measures based on risk assessment.

The agency declared the coronavirus outbreak a PHEIC in January 2020, about six weeks before describing it as a pandemic.

PHEIC establishes an agreement between countries to follow WHO recommendations for emergency management. Each country in turn declares its own public health emergency—declarations that carry legal weight. Countries use them to allocate resources and waive laws to mitigate crises.

The United States also remains under its public health emergency declaration, which was recently extended on Jan. 11 by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Javier Besra.

Addressing the committee’s meeting last week, Tedros said that more than 170,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the past eight weeks, and even though the world is better equipped to manage the pandemic than it was three years ago, he still ” “very” remains. “It is concerned about the situation in many countries and the increasing number of victims.”

While global Covid-19 deaths are trending upward, the seven-day average is significantly lower than earlier points in the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Last week, before the committee meeting, Tedros urged countries not to give up the fight against Covid-19.

“My message is clear: do not underestimate this virus,” he said. “It has and will catch us by surprise, and it will continue to kill unless we do more to get health tools to the people who need them and comprehensively tackle misinformation.”

Also on Monday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies released two new reports warning that “not all countries are dangerously unprepared for future disease outbreaks.”

IFRC Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain said the Covid-19 pandemic should be “a wake-up call”.

The next pandemic may be just around the corner. If the experience of Covid-19 does not accelerate our steps towards preparedness, what will?” He said in a news release.

Many of the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on countries, such as job losses and poverty, loss of learning, food insecurity and increased mental health problems, could be avoided if governments invested in emergency preparedness, reports say. They advise countries to prepare for concurrent risks, such as disease outbreaks and extreme weather events.

“We need to start preparing now because our world is becoming increasingly dangerous,” said IFRC’s 2022 World Disasters Report, noting that many disasters will be caused by climate change. In 2021, 378 disasters – not including outbreaks – were recorded, above the 20-year average of 337 per year. Many countries had to respond to hazards such as hurricanes and floods while also dealing with COVID-19.

The report calls for “community-level action” to prepare for disaster on the front lines, and to address existing economic and racial disparities so they are not exacerbated when disaster strikes.

IFRC’s 2023 Everyone Counts report also emphasizes “local resilience” by building and investing in “public health, sanitation, shelter and economic security” of communities.

Ultimately, the report states, “No one is safe until everyone is safe. “The epidemic is not over and there is no answer.”


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