COVID-19 is officially 'over', according to the World Health Organisation

·2-min read
authentic shot of multiracial people in the city wearing face mask to represent the pandemic
COVID-19 is officially 'over' - says the WHOwilliam87 - Getty Images

After more than three long, difficult years, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that COVID-19 is no longer a recognised "global health emergency", via a new statement. A statement that will no doubt be met with mixed emotions by many, especially those who are still very much living with Long Covid.

The WHO also shared an estimation that the death rate associated with the virus has dropped from a peak of 100,000 people a week (January 2021) to a little over 3,500 (April 2023). It also estimates that at least seven million people lost their lives during the pandemic, but the WHO's Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has also caveated on-record that he believes the figure is likely closer to 20 million deaths.

The medical expert also warned the public that the virus is still a threat.

black woman wearing a face mask receiving an injection
Marko Geber - Getty Images

"Yesterday, the Emergency Committee met for the fifteenth time and recommended to me that I declare an end to the public health emergency of international concern," he shared. "I've accepted that advice. It's therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency."

He added that the WHO's choice to drop COVID-19 down from the highest level of alert doesn't mean that emergency status won't be reinstated in future, if needs be. "The worst thing any country can do now is to use this news as a reason to let down its guard, to dismantle the systems it has built, or to send the message to its people that Covid-19 is nothing to worry about."

Dr Mike Ryan, from the WHO's health emergencies programme, echoed that sentiment and reminded that the vaccine has not yet reached many people around the world. "We fully expect that this virus will continue to transmit and this is the history of pandemics. It took decades for the final throws of the pandemic virus of 1918 to disappear.

"In most cases pandemics truly end when the next pandemic begins."

This news comes a week after the NHS COVID app (the one that would ping us with alerts, remember that?) is winding down and will be taken off the App Store and Google Play on 16 May.

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