After three years
The World Health Organization (WHO) lifted this Friday the international emergency for the HIV/AIDS-19 pandemic, which had been declared since January 30, 2020, due to the notable reduction of severe cases and deaths globally.
The decision was announced by the WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, after the agency's emergency committee met Thursday to analyze the current situation of the pandemic, which in more than three years has affected at least 765 million people and has caused the death of some 20 million.
"It is a moment of celebration, achieved after the tireless work of millions of health workers, of much innovation and research, of difficult decisions made by governments and of sacrifices that we have all had to make," Tedros stressed, taking stock of 1,221 days under a health emergency.
"It is also a time for reflection, as the scars we have been left with should serve as a permanent reminder of the risk of new viruses emerging with devastating consequences," the Ethiopian expert added.
Tedros also warned that the lifting of the international emergency "does not mean that COVID has ceased to be a threat," recalling that it still causes one death in the world every three minutes, while "thousands of people in the world are still fighting for their lives in intensive care units" and others are suffering from post-coviral symptoms.
"The worst thing countries could do now is to use this news as an excuse to lower their guard, dismantle the systems they have built or send a message to the population that they don't need to worry anymore," he warned.
Tedros noted, however, that the pandemic has been on a downward trend for the past year, as immunization of the global population has increased both through mass vaccinations and the natural defenses developed by many of those who have overcome the disease.
Since the beginning of the year, the number of COVID infections and deaths reported has been decreasing globally: in the last week of April, the WHO confirmed 630,000 cases worldwide and 3,500 deaths, when in January there were more than 1.3 million positive cases and 14,000 deaths, partly due to the wave in China.
Tedros warned that in the face of a virus that could still change into more lethal and contagious variants, the WHO will continue to be on guard, and announced that for the first time in the history of the organization, despite there being no international emergency, a review committee will be formed to continue to periodically analyze the virus situation