The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday announced that as COVID-19 continues to constitute a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
According to WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the COVID-19 pandemic is probably at a transition point and appreciates the advice of the Committee to navigate this transition carefully and mitigate the potential negative consequences.
On Friday, WHO conducted the fourteenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
This week marks the three-year anniversary of the determination of the COVID-19 PHEIC in January 2020.
According to the WHO Director-General, surveillance and genetic sequencing have declined globally, making it more difficult to track known variants and detect new ones.
“the COVID-19 response remains hobbled in too many countries unable to provide these tools to the populations most in need, older people and health worker,” he said during the meeting.
During the meeting, the WHO Secretariat presented the global COVID-19 epidemiological situation; currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, including descendent lineages of these variants; unexpectedly early seasonal return of influenza and RSV in some regions, which is burdening some already overstressed health systems; status of global vaccination and hybrid immunity; and new travel-related health measures, including testing and vaccination requirements, implemented in response to the recent wave of COVID-19 cases after policy changes.
The experts also expressed concern over the continued virus evolution in the context of unchecked circulation of SARS-CoV-2 and the substantial decrease in reporting of data related to COVID-19 morbidity, mortality, hospitalization and sequencing.
Committee highlighted the ongoing risk posed by COVID-19, with a still high number of deaths compared to other respiratory infectious diseases, the insufficient vaccine uptake in low- and middle-income countries, as well as in the highest-risk groups globally, and the uncertainty associated with emerging variants.
The WHO Director-General also issued temporary Recommendations which included maintaining momentum for COVID-19 vaccination to achieve 100 percent coverage, improving reporting of SARS-CoV-2 surveillance data to WHO and maintaining strong national response capacity and prepare for future events.
According to WHO, more than 1,70,000 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported globally within the last eight weeks.