‘Transition point’: COVID-19 pandemic not over yet, WHO emergency committee declares

While many masks have been put away, and society has returned to the way things were before 2020, the World Health Organization has said that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over.

Instead it’s at a “transition point.”

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WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee met late last week to discuss the status of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported.

The panel released its findings on Monday morning.

The advisors told the WHO to suggest “alternative mechanisms to maintain the global and national focus on COVID-19 after the PHEIC is terminated.”

PHEIC refers to the public health emergency of international concern declaration that governs how COVID-19 is tracked and handled. The WHO called the coronavirus pandemic a public health emergency in January 2020 — six weeks before calling it a pandemic, CNN reported.

“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 little doubt that this virus will remain a permanently established pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future. As such, long-term public health action is critically needed,” the WHO wrote in a statement released Monday.

The panel added that “mitigation of its devastating impact” should be a “prioritized goal.”

Finally, the panel did not lift the pandemic declaration, instead, it said that the WHO “should develop a proposal for alternative mechanisms to maintain the global and national focus on COVID-19 after the PHEIC is terminated.” The plan could include future reviews and recommendations under the International Health Regulations committee.

The panel is also asking the WHO Secretariat to look at regulatory implications on the development and authorization of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for COVID-19 if the PHEIC comes to an end.

The committee said that countries continue vaccinating people and have those vaccines brought into routine care, improve surveillance of the illness and make sure healthcare systems can handle another spread instead of a “panic-neglect cycle.”

The U.S. has its own COVID-19 public health emergency declaration, which was just renewed on Jan. 11.

According to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, there have been more than 670 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide accounting for more than 6.8 million deaths.

The WHO has the number of global cases since the start of the pandemic higher at 752 million confirmed cases but the same general number of deaths at 6.8 million.

In the U.S. there have been 102 million cases of the coronavirus with 1.1 million deaths attributed to the virus since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins. In the past 28 days, there have been almost 1.5 million cases with more than 14,000 deaths.

The WHO again has slightly different numbers of confirmed cases in the U.S. with 100 million overall since the start of the pandemic with the same number of deaths.

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