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Tipsheet

World Health Organization Officially Declares COVID-19 Is No Longer a Global Health Emergency

Naohiko Hatta/Pool Photo via AP

On Friday morning, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced that the body's emergency committee had finally recommended an end to the public health emergency, something he agreed with. This move comes over three years after COVID was declared a global health emergency.

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"For more than a year, the pandemic has been on a downward trend, with population immunity increasing from vaccination and infection, mortality decreasing and the pressure on health systems easing. This trend has allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before COVID-19," Ghebreyesus also said during a Friday press briefing. 

The move has been a long time coming, especially as people have tired of the lockdowns, mandates, devastation to the economy, to mental health, to civil liberties, and affects on learning. 

As a report from The Wall Street Journal mentioned:

The World Health Organization declared an end to the Covid-19 emergency, signaling that one of the most deadly and economically devastating pandemics in modern history is receding as the disease that caused it becomes a routine illness. 

Covid-19 is here to stay, but the pandemic has been in a downward trend for more than a year because people around the world have built up immunity to the virus, the WHO said on Friday. The trend has enabled most countries to return to pre-pandemic life, even as Covid-19 continues to spread.

The move doesn’t trigger changes in government funding or services, said Lawrence Gostin, faculty director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, who has advised the WHO. But it marks a long-awaited milestone, the biggest sign yet that the pandemic is reaching a new stage after more than three years of tragedy and deprivation. 

“The global public and political leaders have long moved on,” Dr. Gostin said. 

...

“The public has kind of left the pandemic behind them,” said Dr. Mark Levine, commissioner of health in Vermont. “We’re really watching Covid become such as many other infectious diseases.” 

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The move comes almost a month after President Joe Biden signed H.J.Res. 7, which a White House memo acknowledged "terminates the national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic." 

Although the president quietly signed the bill without any fanfare, it nevertheless had represented a larger issue for Biden and Democrats in disarray. The bill was a Republican-led effort from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), which some Democrats did support, which the White House signaled it would not oppose. Democrats have publicly and privately called on Biden to have a more clear messaging strategy. 

The president and the White House had been giving conflicting information for months as to if the pandemic was over, despite how Biden last September declared in an interview with CBS News' "60 Minutes" that "the pandemic is over."

The national emergency would have ended on May 11 regardless. 

The WHO's declaration also comes just days after the Biden administration announced it was finally ending most vaccine mandates. 

"The World Health Organization" is currently trending on Twitter in reaction to the announcement. Many are tweeting their frustration with the body, though perhaps none more than Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) who is upping his calls to defund the WHO. In January, he introduced legislation to do just that. 

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