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 epidemic is at a “tipping point”.

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

In a statement released on Monday, WHO’s advisory committee said it urged WHO to propose “alternative mechanisms to maintain global and national focus on COVID-19 after the end of PHEIC”.

“Achieving high levels of population immunity globally, through infection and/or vaccination, may limit the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on morbidity and mortality, but there is no doubt that the virus will remain a persistently established pathogen in humans and animals. For the foreseeable future. Thus, there is a dire need for long-term public health action,” the committee said in a statement on Monday. “Although eliminating this virus from human and animal reservoirs is highly unlikely, reducing its devastating impact on morbidity and mortality is achievable and should continue to be a priority goal.”

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

The organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a PHEIC in January 2020, about six weeks before it was classified as a pandemic.

A PHEIC creates an agreement between countries to follow WHO recommendations for managing emergencies. Each country, in turn, declares its own public health emergencies—declarations that carry legal weight. Countries use them to marshal resources and waive regulations to ease crises.

The US also remains under its own public health emergency declaration, which was recently renewed on January 11 by US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

More than 170,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the past eight weeks, Tedros said last week when he announced the committee meeting, and although the world is better at managing the pandemic than it was three years ago, he “Concerned by the situation and the increasing number of deaths in many countries. ”

While global Covid-19 deaths are trending upward, the seven-day average is significantly lower than at previous 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 continue to shock us, and it will continue to shock us until we do more to get health tools to the people who need them and to deal with misinformation comprehensively.”

Also on Monday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies released two new reports that warned that “all countries are dangerously unprepared for future outbreaks.”

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

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

The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on many countries, such as job losses and poverty, learning deficits, food insecurity and mental health problems, could have been avoided if governments had invested in emergency preparedness, reports said. . They recommend that countries prepare for simultaneous threats, such as disease outbreaks and extreme weather events.

“We need to start preparing now, because our world is becoming increasingly dangerous,” says the IFRC’s World Disaster Report 2022. “In 2021, 378 disasters were recorded – not including disease outbreaks – which is higher than the 20-year average of 337 disasters per year. Many countries have had to respond to threats such as hurricanes and floods while dealing with Covid-19.”

The report calls for “community-level action” to prepare for disasters on the front lines, and to address existing economic and racial inequalities so they don’t worsen when disasters strike.

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

Finally, the report says, “No one is safe until everyone is safe. The epidemic is not over and neither is the answer.”


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