The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on May 5 that the COVID-19 global emergency is officially over. This decision comes more than three years after the initial declaration, as the pandemic continues to impact countries around the world. The announcement was made during the 15th meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee regarding COVID-19, where members cited a downward trend in death rates, a decline in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, and increased population immunity as reasons for the decision.

COVID-19 Still Poses Threat to Public Health

Despite the lifting of global emergency status, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized that COVID-19 remains a significant threat to global health. The virus is still responsible for thousands of deaths each week, and millions of people continue to suffer from its long-term effects. Tedros expressed the organization’s readiness to reconvene experts and reassess the situation should a new variant arise that poses a serious risk to global health.

Pandemic’s Impact on Low-Income Nations

The decision to lift the global emergency status has been met with mixed reactions. Critics, such as respiratory physician Margareth Dalcolmo, argue that it is too soon to make such a declaration, as it could hinder the development of better vaccines and research into COVID variants. Additionally, the emergency status provides leverage for low-income nations to access necessary treatments and support. In developing and indigenous countries, the pandemic has caused severe devastation, with millions of people experiencing disproportionate impacts.

US COVID-19 Death Rates Decline

In a related development, provisional data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that COVID-19 fell to the fourth leading cause of death in the US in 2022. Death rates due to the virus have decreased for most Americans, with the highest rates now found in the South and adjacent regions.