The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared an end to the COVID-19 pandemic as a global health emergency.
This announcement came on Friday, after the emergency committee met for the 15th time and recommended the end of the public health emergency of international concern. However, WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that this did not mean COVID-19 was over as a global health threat.
Ghebreyesus acknowledged that COVID-19 had changed the world and that it should be a lesson for future generations. He emphasized that the world should not return to the way things were before COVID-19, or it would fail to learn from its lessons.
Although the lifting of the global health emergency is a sign of progress, WHO stated that COVID-19 is here to stay. Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, noted that COVID-19 continued to pose a public health threat due to its global presence, continued evolution and vulnerabilities in societies and individuals.
WHO’s announcement could lead to the end of international coordination and funding efforts, as many countries have already shifted their attention away from the pandemic.
According to WHO statistics, the death rate from COVID-19 has slowed significantly from a peak of over 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 in the week of April 24, 2023.
The end of the global health emergency status could also mean that countries, including the US and the European Union, would cease to pay for vaccines and other benefits.