Is COVID-19 pandemic over yet? WHO committee to meet today to discuss its public health emergency status

The committee is expected to announce its decision on January 30.

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WHO is also facilitating the shipment of laboratory glove tents for sample testing as well as one viral haemorrhagic fever kit that includes personal protective equipment that can be used by 500 health workers. (File)

The World Health Organization (WHO) is set to conduct a meeting today to discuss whether the covid outbreak still meets the definition of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), the agency’s highest risk level.

On Friday, the WHO’s International Health Regulations (2005) will conduct its 14th meeting since the UN agency first identified the coronavirus outbreak in January 2020.

“While I will not preempt the advice of the emergency committee, I remain very concerned by the situation in many countries and the rising number of deaths,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference ahead of the meeting, the first to take place since China lifted its zero-covid policy.

Reportedly, the WHO chief specifically referred to the recent surge in covid cases in China, where at least 170,000 deaths have been reported in the last eight weeks.

According to reports, the committee will consider the specific parameters of a PHEIC, namely whether the outbreak is still “serious, sudden, unusual, or unexpected.”

Although, COVID-19 and it’s impact continuous to remain serious, there has been tremendous improvement in protecting people against the virus, through rapid antigen tests, treatments like the Paxlovid antiviral pill, and vaccines globally.

According to WHO, more than two-thirds of the world population have so far received at least one dose of a covid vaccine. The committee is expected to announce its decision on January 30.

On 11 March 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

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First published on: 27-01-2023 at 09:49 IST