WHO: Covid no longer qualifies as a global health emergency

WHO: Covid no longer qualifies as a global health emergency

World Health Organization (WHO) officials have announced today, that COVID is no longer a global health emergency, marking a symbolic end to the pandemic. "It's with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, "however that does not mean that COVID-19 is over as a global health threat."

The pandemic has been on a downward trend for more than a year, he said, acknowledging that most countries have already returned to normal life. He also highlighted the damage that COVID has done to the global community, saying the virus had shattered businesses and plunged millions of people into poverty.

The WHO lowered its highest level of alert after experts met yesterday (Thursday), saying the UN agency doesn't "declare" pandemics, but first used the term to describe the outbreak in March 2020, long after many other scientists had said a pandemic was already underway.

"COVID has changed our world and it has changed us," he said, warning that the risk of new variants still remained. In May last year, WHO experts said the end of the pandemic was "in sight", publishing policy briefs for governments to follow on infection control, testing, vaccination, and misinformation.

Last month the NHS COVID app was switched off in the UK and will be discontinued completely on May 16th. The same month the Office for National Statistics said that COVID-19 was no longer a top leading cause of death in England or Wales.

After being declared a pandemic on 11th March 2020, COVID triggered lockdowns and travel restrictions across the world, and there have been more than six million COVID-related deaths worldwide since then.

The virus has caused an estimated 764 million cases globally and about five billion people have received at least one dose of vaccine.