The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said that the COVID-19 pandemic, which took the lives of millions of people in a span of three years, deepened inequalities and wreaked economic havoc, is no longer a global health emergency.
“Yesterday, the Emergency Committee met for the 15th time and recommended to me that I declare an end to the public health emergency of international concern. I’ve accepted that advice. It’s therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus while speaking to reporters, as he estimated that the pandemic had killed “at least 20 million” people, which is threefold the official estimate.
The announcement was made after the independent emergency committee of WHO on Thursday held its 15th meeting on the Covid crisis during which they agreed that the crisis did not merit the highest level of alert of the organization any longer.
However, Tedros warned that the announcement did not mean the threat was over, as he cautioned people about the chances of reinstating the emergency status if the situation changes.
“However, that does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat,” Ghebreyesus said.
“The worst thing any country could 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,” he stated.
The public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) was first declared by the UN health agency over the crisis on January 30, 2020.
The development had taken place weeks after the mysterious viral disease was first discovered in China. At that time, there were less than 100 cases of Covid and no reported deaths had taken place outside that country.