(CNN) The World Health Organization said Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a global health emergency, but the organization and its advisers also acknowledged that the pandemic is at a “transition point.”
On Friday, the WHO International Health Regulations Emergency Committee discussed the pandemic and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus agreed with its conclusion that the public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, must continue.
In a statement released Monday, the WHO advisory committee said it urged the WHO to propose “alternative mechanisms to maintain global and national focus on COVID-19 after the PHEIC ends.”
“Achieving higher levels of population immunity globally, either through infection and/or vaccination, may limit the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on morbidity and mortality, but there is no doubt that this virus will remain a permanently established pathogen in humans and animals. in the immediate future. As such, long-term public health action is critically needed,” the committee said in a statement Monday. “While elimination of this virus from human and animal reservoirs is highly unlikely, mitigation of its devastating impact on morbidity and mortality is feasible and should remain a priority objective.”
In a list of temporary recommendations, Tedros said countries should continue to vaccinate people and incorporate COVID-19 vaccines into routine care, improve disease surveillance, maintain a strong health care system to avoid “a cycle of panic and neglect”, continue to fight misinformation and adjust measures for international travel based on risk assessment.
The organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern in January 2020, about six weeks before characterizing it as a pandemic.
A public health emergency of international concern creates an agreement between countries to comply with WHO recommendations for emergency management. Each country, in turn, declares its own public health emergency, declarations that carry legal weight. Countries use them to pool resources and waive the rules to alleviate a crisis.
The United States also remains under its own public health emergency declaration, which Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra last renewed on January 11.
More than 170,000 people have died worldwide from COVID-19 in the past eight weeks, Tedros said last week when announcing the committee meeting.
He said that while the world is better equipped to handle the pandemic than it was three years ago, he remains “very concerned about the situation in many countries and the increasing number of deaths.”
While global deaths from COVID-19 are trending higher, the seven-day average is still significantly lower than previous points in the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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