WHO contemplates end of covid-19 and monkey smallpox emergencies in 2023

WHO contemplates end of covid-19 and monkey smallpox emergencies in 2023

December 14, 2022, 22:47 PM

December 14, 2022, 22:47 PM

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that it expects that covid-19 and monkeypox will cease to be public health emergencies in 2023, since both diseases have left behind their most dangerous phase.

As the third anniversary of the appearance of the coronavirus approaches, the WHO indicated that covid-19 is here to stay but must be managed together with other respiratory diseases.

The director of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reported that the number of weekly deaths from covid-19 was around a fifth of that of a year earlier.

“Last week, less than 10,000 people died (from covid). There are still 10,000 more deaths and countries can still do a lot to save lives“He said at a press conference.

“But we’ve come a long way. We’re hopeful that sometime next year we’ll be able to say that Covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency.”

The WHO Emergency Committee, which advises Tedros on his declarations of Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC), will start discussing what the end of the emergency phase will look like when it meets in January.

Maria van Kerkhove, who leads the technical part of covid management at WHO, said the committee will look at the epidemiology, variants and impact of the virus.

Although waves of infections are still expected, the pandemic “it’s not what it was at first” and infections no longer generate as many hospitalizations or deaths, he said.

“These deaths are mostly among people who are not vaccinated” or have not received the full immunization schedule, Van Kerkhove added.
Although 13,000 million vaccines have been administered in the world, about 30% of the population has not yet received a single dose, he added.

Almost 650 million confirmed infections and more than 6.6 million deaths have been reported to the WHO, although the UN agency acknowledges that the real figure is much higher.

For Tedros, now that the world sees the end of the health emergency, it is necessary to understand how the pandemic began, that tanked the global economy and has left millions with lingering symptoms.

The first cases were detected in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. “We continue to ask China to share the data and carry out the studies that we have requested to better understand the origins of this virus,” he said.

“All the hypotheses are still on the table”, he added, including the theory that the virus escaped from a virology lab in Wuhan.

The director of emergencies of the WHO, Michael Ryan, justified that the organization could not simply stop working with Beijing because “they are not cooperating” in this investigation, given that a significant part of the world’s population lives in China.

Hope for new vaccines

Tedros also explained that “this virus will not work.” “It is here to stay and all countries will have to learn to deal with it, as well as other respiratory diseases“, he recalled.

WHO vaccine director Kate O’Brien said the drugs currently available were not preventing infection to the degree they had hoped.

The benefit of these vaccines is mostly about protection against the diseaseO’Brien said, calling for further investigation.

“We would love to have vaccines that are more effective against infection and transmission and offer longer lasting protection,” he added.

As for monkeypox, Tedros said the outbreak caught them by surprise, but he is confident of ending the emergency in 2023.

Although more than 82,000 cases were reported in 110 countries, only 65 were fatal. “Fortunately, the number of weekly cases has fallen by more than 90%” since July, he said. “If this trend continues, we are hopeful that next year we can also declare the end of this emergency.”

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