GENEVA (AP) — COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency, the World Health Organization said Friday, triggering once-unthinkable lockdowns, disrupting economies and causing hundreds of deaths around the world. A symbolic end to the devastating coronavirus pandemic that has killed millions of people.
More than three years after the WHO declared the coronavirus a global crisis, the announcement will bring some if not the end to a pandemic that has stirred fear and suspicion, strangled and condemned the world. provide relief for
An official with the United Nations Health Organization said although the state of emergency is over, the pandemic isn’t over yet, citing recent spikes in cases in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
The WHO says thousands of people still die from the virus every week, and millions more suffer debilitating long-term effects.
“It is with great hope that we declare COVID-19 a global health emergency.” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:
“That does not mean that COVID-19 is over as a global health threat.” He warned that new variants could still emerge. Tedros pointed out that the official death toll from COVID-19 puts him at 7 million, but the real figure is estimated to be at least 20 million.
Tedros said the pandemic has been on a downward trend for more than a year, acknowledging that most countries have returned to their pre-COVID-19 lives.
He lamented the damage COVID-19 has done to the international community, saying the pandemic has shattered businesses, exacerbated political divisions, led to the spread of misinformation and pushed millions into poverty. .
Political repercussions in some countries were swift and unrelenting. Some experts say President Donald Trump’s failure to run for re-election in 2020 is partly due to his administration’s failure to respond to the pandemic.
Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergency chief, said negotiating a broad pandemic treaty is a critical step for world leaders and other leaders to determine how future health threats will be addressed. said that it is the responsibility of
Ryan said some of the scenes witnessed during COVID-19 when people resorted to “Oxygen Cylinder Barter” He died in the parking lot after struggling to get into the emergency room due to lack of treatment. Never repeat.
When the United Nations Health Organization first declared the coronavirus a global crisis on January 30, 2020, it had yet to be named COVID-19 and had no major outbreaks outside of China.
More than three years later, the virus has caused an estimated 764 million cases worldwide, and nearly 5 billion people have received at least one vaccination.
In the United States, the public health emergency declared over COVID-19 is set to expire on May 11, ending a wide range of measures to support the pandemic response, including mandatory vaccines. increase. Many other countries, including Germany, France and the UK, dropped most of their pandemic provisions last year.
When Tedros declared COVID-19 a state of emergency in 2020, he said his biggest fear was the potential spread of the virus in countries with weak health systems.
In fact, some of the countries with the fewest deaths from COVID-19 were previously judged to be the most prepared for the pandemic, including the US and UK. According to WHO data, Africa accounts for only 3% of all deaths reported worldwide.
WHO DOES NOT “declare” But the term was first used to describe the outbreak in March 2020, when the virus spread to every continent except Antarctica, long after many other scientists said a pandemic was already underway. used for
The WHO is the only body charged with coordinating the global response to acute health threats, but the organization has repeatedly stalled as the coronavirus unfolded.
In January 2020, the WHO publicly praised China for its swift and transparent response, but government officials were frustrated by China’s lack of cooperation, according to private meeting transcripts obtained by the AP. I was.
The WHO has also not recommended mask-wearing in public for many months.
Many scientists also blame the WHO for its unwillingness to admit that COVID-19 is frequently spread through the air and by asymptomatic people, and the agency’s lack of guidance to prevent such exposure. criticized
Tedros has vociferously criticized rich countries that have stockpiled limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccines and warned that the world is on the brink of crisis. ‘A catastrophic moral failure’ By failing to share shots with poor countries.
Most recently, the WHO has struggled to investigate the origin of the coronavirus, a challenging scientific endeavour, and one that also has political issues.