The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that Covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency, three years after it first declared its highest level of alert over the virus.
The announcement is a significant step towards ending the pandemic, as the death rate from Covid-19 has dropped from over 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 on 24 April, according to officials.
While the WHO said that the virus’ removal from the highest level of alert did not mean that the danger was over, the head of the organization warned that the emergency status could be reinstated if the situation changed.
The WHO first declared Covid-19 to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) in January 2020, which signaled the need for coordinated global action to protect people from the virus.
Since then, vaccines have been one of the major turning points in the pandemic. According to the WHO, over 13 billion doses have been given, allowing many people to be protected from serious illness and death.
However, in many countries, vaccines have not reached most of those in need, and more than 765 million confirmed Covid infections have been recorded worldwide.
While the end of the emergency status represents a significant milestone, the threat from Covid-19 is still present.
Dr. Mike Ryan, from the WHO’s health emergencies program, said that the organization fully expects the virus to continue to transmit, and that in most cases pandemics truly end when the next pandemic begins.
The WHO’s decision to end the emergency status was made on the basis of careful analysis of data and will now be up to individual countries to continue to manage Covid-19 in the way they think best.