The Covid-19 emergency committee of the World Health Organization met on Friday to assess whether the epidemic still justifies the highest degree of global alert.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the WHO, said prior to the meeting that the pandemic’s emergency phase was still ongoing due to the more than 170,000 deaths caused by the virus in the previous two months.
“While I will not pre-empt the advice of the emergency committee, I remain very concerned by the situation in many countries and the rising number of deaths,” he told a press conference on Tuesday.
As what was then known as the novel coronavirus started to spread outside of China, the panel held its 14th meeting on the problem nearly three years to the day after it originally raised the WHO’s highest emergency alarm.
Every three months, the independent committee meets to talk about the pandemic and submits a report to Tedros.
“While we are clearly in better shape than three years ago when this pandemic first hit, the global collective response is once again under strain,” Tedros said Tuesday.
He claimed that insufficient vaccination rates exist and that many Covid-19 patients cannot afford antivirals.
Health systems are still finding it difficult to handle the added burden of Covid.
It is now more difficult to track the numerous variants and quickly identify new ones due to a steep decline in surveillance and genetic sequencing, which has affected how the virus is evolving.
Tedros stated that “unless we do more to bring health tools to people who need them,” the virus “will continue to kill.”
The one-day emergency committee meeting will be presided over by French physician Didier Houssin, and the conclusions will be made public in the days that follow.
The pandemic continues to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), which is the highest degree of alert recognized by the World Health Organization.