An Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization convening Friday might decide to declare the end of the public health emergency stemming from Covid-19. The committee's decision is to be announced on Jan. 30.
Following the meeting, the panel will advise WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on whether the Covid-19 pandemic still constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The Director-General accepted the advice of the Emergency Committee and declared Covid-19 a PHEIC on Jan. 30, 2020. The Committee continues to meet every 3 months to review the case and reissue temporary recommendations.
Almost exactly three years after declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, our highest level of alert, this week the Emergency Committee on Covid-19 will meet to discuss whether the current situation still constitutes a global emergency, Tedros announced at a press conference last Tuesday. He also warned that there has been an increase in fatalities recently, with over 170,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the past eight weeks.
”That's just the reported deaths; the actual number of deaths is much higher (...). While I am not going to pre-empt the advice of the Emergency Committee, I remain very concerned about the situation in many countries and the increasing number of deaths, he added.
While acknowledging that the current situation is clearly better than it was three years ago, when this pandemic first struck, he stressed that the collective global response is under pressure once again. Progress includes rapid antigen tests, treatments like the Paxlovid antiviral pill, and vaccines, of which more than two thirds of the world population have so far received at least one dose.
It will be the Committee's 14th gathering since the UN agency first identified the coronavirus outbreak in January 2020. The panel will consider the specific parameters of a PHEIC, namely whether the outbreak is still “serious, sudden, unusual, or unexpected,” it was explained.