Covid is no longer a global health emergency, WHO declares

The World Health Organization said that Covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency and that member states should lift all Covid-19 international travel-related health measures, based on risk assessments, and not require vaccination as a prerequisite for international travel.

The news comes more than three years after first declaring the emergency in January 2020 and one week before the U.S. will end its Covid-19 public health emergency designation, on May 11. It also comes on the heels of the Biden administration’s decision earlier this week to repeal its vaccine requirement for inbound international air travelers, also starting May 11.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference on May 5 that the virus has been on a “downward trend” for more than a year. And while he stressed that Covid was still a threat, the WHO stated that “high population-level immunity from infection, vaccination or both” have contributed to a significant global decline in the number of Covid-related deaths and hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, current variants do not appear to be associated with increased severity.

Ghebreyesus said that these trends have “allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before Covid-19.”

According to the WHO, there have been more than 765 million Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and nearly 7 million deaths.

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