WHO: COVID-19 no longer a ‘global health emergency’

At least seven million people died in the pandemic.
Loukia Papadopoulos
A doctor in full COVID gear.
A doctor in full COVID gear.


On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced publicly that COVID-19 was no longer a "global health emergency,” according to a report by the BBC.

The organization claimed the virus' death rate had dropped from a high of more than 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 on 24 April.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the WHO, said that officially at least seven million people died in the pandemic but that the real figure was "likely" closer to 20 million deaths.

"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've accepted that advice. It is therefore with great hope that I declare Covid-19 over as a global health emergency," the official said.

However, Ghebreyesus warned that nations were not completely in the clear as the danger was not over. An emergency status could be reinstated if the virus resurfaces violently.

The worst thing

"The worst thing any country can 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," he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Dr Mike Ryan, from the WHO's health emergencies programme, who said the threat is still there despite the emergency having ended.

"We fully expect that this virus will continue to transmit and this is the history of pandemics," he said.

"It took decades for the final throes of the pandemic virus of 1918 to disappear.

"In most cases, pandemics truly end when the next pandemic begins,” he told the BBC.

Individual countries will now be responsible for managing the pandemic in the way they deem best.

Vaccines have been touted as one of the key tools in controlling the pandemic. The WHO estimates that 13 billion doses have been given thus far, protecting many citizens from severe illness and even death.

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