The COVID-19 PHEIC is "Officially" Over
The fake has ended, but the lies continue.
The Director General of the World Health Organization has stated that the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) has officially ended.
Edited video: https://who.canto.global/s/Q2A5A?viewIndex=0
Statement on the fifteenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic
The WHO Director-General has the pleasure of transmitting the Report of the fifteenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic, held on Thursday 4 May 2023, from 12:00 to 17:00 CET.
During the deliberative session, the Committee members highlighted the decreasing trend in COVID-19 deaths, the decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, and the high levels of population immunity to SARS-CoV-2. The Committee’s position has been evolving over the last several months. While acknowledging the remaining uncertainties posted by potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2, they advised that it is time to transition to long-term management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO Director-General concurs with the advice offered by the Committee regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He determines that COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue which no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
The WHO Director-General considered the advice provided by the Committee regarding the proposed Temporary Recommendations and issued them as per the below statement. The WHO Director-General will convene an IHR Review Committee to advise on Standing Recommendations for the long-term management of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, taking into account the 2023-2025 COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. During this transition, States Parties are advised to continue following the issued Temporary Recommendations. The Director-General expressed his sincere gratitude to the Chair, the Members, and the Advisors of the Committee for their engagement and advice during the last three years.
Temporary Recommendations issued by the WHO Director-General to all States Parties:
Sustain the national capacity gains and prepare for future events to avoid the occurrence of a cycle of panic and neglect. States Parties should consider how to improve country readiness for future outbreaks. In alignment with WHO guidance, States Parties should update respiratory pathogen pandemic preparedness plans incorporating learnings from national and sub-national After Action Reviews. States Parties should continue to restore health programmes adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Preparedness and resilience for Emerging Threats; Strengthening pandemic preparedness planning for respiratory pathogens: policy brief; WHO COVID-19 policy briefs; Emergency Response Reviews)
Integrate COVID-19 vaccination into life course vaccination programmes. States Parties should maintain efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage for all people in the high-priority groups (as defined by the SAGE Roadmap of April 2023) with WHO recommended vaccines and continue to actively address vaccine acceptance and demand issues with communities. (Global COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy in a Changing World (July 2022 update); SAGE Roadmap (Updated March 2023); Good practice statement on the use of variant-containing COVID-19 vaccines; Continued collaboration with IVAC and others to summarise VE studies, Behavioural and social drivers of vaccination: tools and practical guidance for achieving high uptake.)
Bring together information from diverse respiratory pathogen surveillance data sources to allow for a comprehensive situational awareness. States Parties should maintain reporting of mortality and morbidity data as well as variant surveillance information to WHO. Surveillance should incorporate information from an appropriate mix of representative sentinel populations, event-based surveillance, human wastewater surveillance, sero-surveillance, and surveillance of selected animal populations known to be at risk of SARS-COV-2. States Parties should leverage the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and support the establishment of the WHO Global Coronavirus Laboratory Network (CoViNet). (Public health surveillance for COVID-19)
Prepare for medical countermeasures to be authorized within national regulatory frameworks to ensure long-term availability and supply. States Parties should strengthen their regulatory authorities to support long-term authorization and use of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics. (Therapeutics and COVID-19: living guideline; COVID-19 Clinical Care Pathway; Emergency Use Listing procedures; Prequalification procedures for vaccines; Prequalification procedures for in vitro diagnostics)
Continue to work with communities and their leaders to achieve strong, resilient, and inclusive risk communications and community engagement (RCCE) and infodemic management programmes. State Parties should adapt RCCE and infodemic management strategies and interventions to local contexts.
Continue to lift COVID-19 international travel related health measures, based on risk assessments, and to not require any proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as a prerequisite for international travel. (Interim position paper: considerations regarding proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travellers; Policy considerations for implementing a risk-based approach to international travel in the context of COVID-19)
Continue to support research to improve vaccines that reduce transmission and have broad applicability; to understand the full spectrum, incidence and impact of post COVID-19 condition and the evolution of SARS-COV-2 in immunocompromised populations; and to develop relevant integrated care pathways.
WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing – 5 May 2023
Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.
One thousand two hundred and twenty one days ago, WHO learned of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan, China.
On the 30th January 2020, on the advice of an Emergency Committee convened under the International Health Regulations, I declared a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of COVID-19 – the highest level of alarm under international law.
At that time, outside China there were fewer than 100 reported cases, and no reported deaths.
In the three years since then, COVID-19 has turned our world upside down.
Almost 7 million deaths have been reported to WHO, but we know the toll is several times higher – at least 20 million.
Health systems have been severely disrupted, with millions of people missing out on essential health services, including lifesaving vaccinations for children.
But COVID-19 has been so much more than a health crisis.
It has caused severe economic upheaval, erasing trillions from GDP, disrupting travel and trade, shuttering businesses, and plunging millions into poverty.
It has caused severe social upheaval, with borders closed, movement restricted, schools shut and millions of people experiencing loneliness, isolation, anxiety and depression.
COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated political fault lines, within and between nations. It has eroded trust between people, governments and institutions, fuelled by a torrent of mis- and disinformation.
And it has laid bare the searing inequalities of our world, with the poorest and most vulnerable communities the hardest hit, and the last to receive access to vaccines and other tools.
For more than a year, the pandemic has been on a downward trend, with population immunity increasing from vaccination and infection, mortality decreasing and the pressure on health systems easing.
This trend has allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before COVID-19.
For the past year, the Emergency Committee – and WHO – have been analysing the data carefully and considering when the time would be right to lower the level of alarm.
Yesterday, the Emergency Committee met for the 15th time and recommended to me that I declare an end to the public health emergency of international concern. I have accepted that advice.
It is therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency.
However, that does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat.
Last week, COVID-19 claimed a life every three minutes – and that’s just the deaths we know about.
As we speak, thousands of people around the world are fighting for their lives in intensive care units.
And millions more continue to live with the debilitating effects of post-COVID-19 condition.
This virus is here to stay. It is still killing, and it’s still changing. The risk remains of new variants emerging that cause new surges in cases and deaths.
The worst thing any country could do now is to use this news as a reason to let down its guard, to dismantle the systems it has built, or to send the message to its people that COVID-19 is nothing to worry about.
What this news means is that it is time for countries to transition from emergency mode to managing COVID-19 alongside other infectious diseases.
I emphasise that this is not a snap decision. It is a decision that has been considered carefully for some time, planned for, and made on the basis of a careful analysis of the data.
If need be, I will not hesitate to convene another Emergency Committee should COVID-19 once again put our world in peril.
While this Emergency Committee will now cease its work, it has sent a clear message that countries must not cease theirs.
On the Committee’s advice, I have decided to use a provision in the International Health Regulations that has never been used before, to establish a Review Committee to develop long-term, standing recommendations for countries on how to manage COVID-19 on an ongoing basis.
In addition, WHO this week published the fourth edition of the Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19, which outlines critical actions for countries in five core areas: collaborative surveillance, community protection, safe and scalable care, access to countermeasures, and emergency coordination.
For more than three years, the experts on the Emergency Committee have devoted their time, their experience and their expertise, not just to advise me on whether COVID-19 continues to represent a global health emergency, but to also advise on recommendations for countries.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to all the members of the Emergency Committee for their thoughtful consideration and wise advice.
I thank especially Professor Didier Houssin for his leadership as Chair over the past three years. He has led the committee with a calm demeanour and a steady hand through turbulent times.
I also wish to thank the incredible people who I have the privilege to call my colleagues.
For more than three years, the people of WHO have laboured day and night, under intense pressure and intense scrutiny.
They have brought together partners and experts from around the world to generate evidenced, study and translate it into guidance and actions the world.
In countries around the world, WHO has worked closely with governments to translate that guidance into policies and actions to save lives.
My colleagues have worked tirelessly to get vaccines and other supplies to more people faster.
And they have countered mis- and disinformation with accurate and reliable information.
I do not have the words to express my gratitude to everyone around the world, who like me, is proud to be WHO.
At one level, this is a moment for celebration.
We have arrived at this moment thanks to the incredible skill and selfless dedication of health and care workers;
The innovation of vaccine researchers and developers;
The tough decisions governments have had to make in the face of changing evidence;
And the sacrifices that all of us have made as individuals, families, and communities to keep ourselves and each other safe.
At another level, this a moment for reflection.
COVID-19 has left – and continues to leave – deep scars on our world.
Those scars must serve as a permanent reminder of the potential for new viruses to emerge, with devastating consequences.
As a global community, the suffering we have endured, the painful lessons we have learned, the investments we have made and the capacities we have built must not go to waste.
We owe it to those we have lost to leverage those investments; to build on those capacities; to learn those lessons, and to transform that suffering into meaningful and lasting change.
One of the greatest tragedies of COVID-19 is that it didn’t have to be this way.
We have the tools and the technologies to prepare for pandemics better, to detect them earlier, to respond to them faster, and to mitigate their impact.
But globally, a lack of coordination, a lack of equity and a lack of solidarity meant that those tools were not used as effectively as they could have been. Lives were lost that should not have been.
We must promise ourselves and our children and grandchildren that we will never make those mistakes again.
That’s what the pandemic accord and the amendments to the International Health Regulations that countries are now negotiating are about – a commitment to future generations that we will not go back to the old cycle of panic and neglect that left our world vulnerable, but move forward with a shared commitment to meet shared threats with a shared response.
In 1948, the nations of the world came together in the aftermath of the bloodiest war in history to commit to working together for a healthier world, recognising that diseases have no regard for the lines humans draw on maps.
They forged an agreement – a treaty: the Constitution of the World Health Organization.
Three-quarters of a century later, nations are once again coming together to forge an agreement to ensure we never repeat the same mistakes again.
If we don’t make these changes, then who will?
This is the right generation to make those changes.
And if we don’t make them now, then when?
Like countries, communities and public health institutions around the world, WHO has learned an enormous amount from this pandemic.
COVID has changed our world, and it has changed us.
That’s the way it should be. If we all go back to how things were before COVID-19, we will have failed to learn our lessons, and we will have failed future generations.
This experience must change us all for the better. It must make us more determined to fulfil the vision that nations had when they founded WHO in 1948: the highest possible standard of health for all people.
by James Roguski
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