Three years and three months after its implementation, WHO President Tedros Adhanom has confirmed his decision to suspend the emergency committee of the World Health Organization. He states that the impact of COVID-19 is no longer initial, due to immunity caused by vaccines and infections. The International Public Health Emergency (ICP) situation can therefore be considered to be completed.
The main criteria for establishing the emergency situation are spontaneous and unexpected presence of pathogen, risk of international expansion, loss of mobility of objects or people. Three years later, SARS-CoV-2 fully met these criteria, so the WHO established the emergency. This required the international community to respond jointly to the situation, to the notification of cases, to the adoption of measures, to research, to integration, etc.
In fact, this is not the case and vaccination is perhaps the clearest example: while in many places a second booster dose is available, in other places the vulnerable population has not yet been vaccinated. Therefore, the WHO recalls that the cessation of the emergency does not imply the interruption of vaccination and efforts.
Moreover, the head of the WHO says: “The worst thing a country can do is to use this news as an excuse to forget surveillance, to derail its health system or to suggest to citizens that COVID19 is not a concern.” And it gives you a fact: last week, in the world, every three minutes, a person died of COVID-19.
In addition, she warns that some malignant variant of the virus can still appear, where vulnerable people remain at risk and millions of people suffer permanent COVID-19. Therefore, and given that SARS-CoV-2 will not disappear, it is necessary to establish long-term strategies, both at global and community level. To this end, the WHO has developed the Training, Response and Resilience strategy for 2023-205.
Finally, WHO recommends that participating countries strengthen their responsiveness to the following emergencies and their availability; include COVID-19 vaccines in vaccination programmes; share COVID-19 information with other respiratory diseases; adapt authorizations and regulations to ensure medical resources (therapies, clinical procedures, diagnostics…); continue communication and risk management with communities; continue to drive research with travel measures in the community.