The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that the Covid-19 pandemic no longer constitutes a global health emergency. This announcement, made by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, comes three years after the organisation declared its highest level of alert over the virus.
According to WHO officials, the pandemic’s death rate has fallen from a peak of more than 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 on 24 April. Dr. Tedros said that at least seven million people had died from the pandemic, but the true figure was likely closer to 20 million.
While the removal of the highest level of alert is a significant step in ending the pandemic, Dr. Tedros warned that the danger was not over, and the emergency status could be reinstated if the situation changes. He urged countries not to use the news to let down their guard or to dismantle the systems they have built.
Dr. Mike Ryan, from the WHO’s health emergencies programme, noted that the threat of the pandemic was still present, despite the emergency’s end.
He added that it took decades for the final throes of the pandemic virus of 1918 to disappear, and that, in most cases, pandemics end only when the next pandemic begins.
While vaccines have been a significant turning point in the pandemic, with 13 billion doses given worldwide, many countries still need them. More than 765 million confirmed Covid infections have been recorded worldwide. In response, countries such as the US and UK have talked about “living with the virus” and have wound down many of the tests and social mixing rules.