The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, when the virus had spread to every continent except Antarctica.
While the virus had claimed just a few hundred lives by that time, the pandemic declaration resulted in unprecedented lockdowns and restrictions on movement and commerce, causing economic contractions that are still being felt. Since then, about 764 million cases have been recorded globally, while 5 billion people have reportedly received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Now, after more than three years and nearly 7 million deaths, world’s health body downgraded the status of the disease today, declaring that the virus epidemic no longer poses a global health emergency.
WHO’s decision to downgrade the COVID-19 global alert level was made after a meeting of experts yesterday.
Despite the official declaration of the pandemic, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that the virus still remains a “global health threat.”
While most countries have dropped their pandemic control measures, the US still has a public health emergency in effect, which is not due to expire until next week. More than 1.1 million people died having COVID-19 in the US, more than in any other country, according to WHO statistics.
In 2021 the WHO declared the virus had jumped to humans from animals, only to reverse course the following year and acknowledge that “key pieces of data” were missing in assessing if it might have emerged from a lab instead.
Frustrated by the lack of a coordinated global response to its emergency declaration, the WHO has put its 194 member nations to work drafting a global treaty to address future pandemics, aimed at protecting the population from global health threats.