On Monday, the World Health Organization reaffirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic remained a worldwide public health emergency, citing the global increase in coronavirus-related mortality.
“As we enter the fourth year of the epidemic, there is little doubt that our situation is vastly improved compared to a year ago when the omicron wave was at its apex,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“However, since the start of December, weekly recorded deaths have been on the rise. In the previous eight weeks, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 170,000 people. And these are only the deaths that have been documented; we know the actual number is significantly higher.”
As per US News, the decision was widely anticipated in light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak in China, which experts say has been grossly underreported. In spite of this, the agency stated that the epidemic is likely at a “transition stage.”
“We remain optimistic that in the coming year, the world will enter a new phase in which hospitalizations and deaths are reduced to the lowest level possible, and health systems are able to manage COVID-19 in an integrated and sustainable manner,” Tedros said on Monday.
Tedros has stated that the end of the pandemic is imminent, despite WHO’s insistence that it is still ongoing. The organization’s committee on the pandemic’s emergency status encouraged WHO to “create a proposal for alternate means to maintain the global and national emphasis on COVID-19 after the [international public health emergency of concern] has ended.”
WHO does not determine whether or not an epidemic is a pandemic. Instead, it determines whether occurrences constitute a public health emergency of worldwide concern, as it did in January 2020 for COVID-19.