Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, December 20, 2021.
Dennis Balibous | reuters
spread of COVID-19 The World Health Organization declared on Friday that there is no longer a global public health emergency.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference in Geneva, “For more than a year, the pandemic has been on a downward trend with vaccination and increasing population immunity from infection, reducing mortality and reducing pressure on health systems.” ” ,
“This trend has allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before Covid-19,” Tedros said. “It is therefore with great hope that I declare Covid-19 a global health emergency.”
The virus has killed nearly 7 million people worldwide since the World Health Organization first declared the emergency on January 30, 2020, according to official figures from the United Nations organization. Tedros said the true death toll was at least 20 million.
The WHO decision comes as the US prepares to end its national public health emergency on Thursday.
Tedros said there is still a risk that a new variant could emerge and lead to another surge in cases. He warned national governments against dismantling the systems they have built to fight the virus.
“This virus is here to stay. It is still killing and it is still changing,” he said.
But the WHO chief said the time has come for countries to transition from an emergency response to managing Covid like other infectious diseases.
COVID was first noticed in Wuhan, China in December 2019, when several patients developed symptoms of pneumonia of unknown cause.
Covid moved rapidly around the world in early 2020, causing an unprecedented shutdown of international travel and border closures as countries tried unsuccessfully to stop the virus’ spread.
Covid ravaged the elderly and other vulnerable populations and overwhelmed hospitals that did not have the bed capacity or the supplies to manage the sudden surge of suffering and death.
Many national governments shut down public life in a desperate attempt to contain the death toll, leading to severe economic recession and social disruption, the long-term consequences of which will not be fully understood for years to come.
Tedros said, “COVID-19 is much more than a health crisis.” “It has caused severe economic turmoil, wiping trillions from GDP, disrupting travel and trade, wrecking businesses and plunging millions into poverty,” he said.
“This has caused severe social upheaval, with borders closed, movement restricted, schools closed and millions of people experiencing loneliness, isolation, anxiety and depression,” Tedros said.
China has faced fierce criticism for not alerting the world earlier, a charge Beijing denies. Critics have also accused the WHO of relying too heavily on information from Beijing at the start of the pandemic.
More than three years later, the origin of the virus still remains a hotly contested mystery. Scientists, government officials, and the general public continue to debate whether COVID spread to humans from an infected animal, or leaked from a laboratory in China.
The US intelligence community is divided in its assessment of the origin of Covid.
The US government, allied nations and the WHO have criticized the Chinese government for not providing transparent access to data that could help determine how the pandemic began.