(Geneva) The World Health Organization’s emergency committee on COVID-19 was due to begin new discussions on Thursday to decide whether the organization should maintain its maximum level of alert in the face of the pandemic.
This is the 15th meeting of this committee of experts since the WHO declared on January 30, 2020 a “public health emergency of international concern (USPPI)”, the highest level of alert in the world. organization.
The committee, chaired by French doctor Didier Houssin, meets every three months to recommend whether or not to maintain this alert, with the final decision being taken by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The meeting was scheduled to start at 6:00 a.m. EST and continue until late afternoon, but the release date of the experts’ recommendation is not known.
A few days before the previous meeting, at the end of January, Dr. Tedros had made it known that he considered the lifting of the highest alert level premature.
This time he didn’t say anything.
But while the number of COVID-19 deaths has fallen by 95% since January, WHO officials have repeatedly lamented that virus surveillance activities, such as testing and genetic sequencing, have significantly decreased across the world, making it difficult to track the pandemic. During the period from March 27 to April 23, the disease still caused at least 16,000 deaths.
“While the number of cases and deaths reported each week is at its lowest since the start of the pandemic, millions of people continue to be infected or re-infected […] and thousands of people die each week”, continued WHO said on Wednesday.
In WHO’s new strategy for the fight against COVID-19, for the period 2023-2025, unveiled on Wednesday, Dr Tedros himself underlines that the world is currently in a moment “of hope and uncertainty in the face of the evolution of the pandemic.
But the strategy aims to “help countries move from emergency response to longer-term disease management, control and prevention”.
The pandemic has claimed more than 7 million lives since the first cases were reported in China at the end of 2019, and more than 765 million cases have been confirmed to the WHO, according to figures that are undoubtedly far below the reality according to the organization.
On January 30, 2020, the WHO sounded the alarm, but it wasn’t until Dr. Tedros called the situation a “pandemic” that countries realized the full urgency of the situation, which had given the virus a head start.
Since then, several vaccines have emerged, of which more than 13.3 billion doses have been administered to date.