July 13, 2024

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WHO lifts high alert on COVID-19 pandemic

WHO lifts high alert on COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 is now sufficiently under control to raise the highest level of alert, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded on Thursday, three years after a pandemic that claimed “at least 20 million” deaths and crippled the global economy. Inequality further widened the gap

“I declare that COVID-19 is no longer a health emergency of international concern,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, adding that the disease had caused “at least 20 million” deaths nearly three times over. More than his organization’s previous official figure.

As of May 3, the WHO dashboard showed officially recorded deaths at less than seven million.

The experts, consulted by the director-general, ruled that despite the uncertainties in the evolution of the virus, “it is time to move on to the long-term management of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

in the beginning

The agency’s highest level of alert was announced on January 30, 2020, weeks after the first cases of this new viral respiratory disease were detected in China, and there is no specific treatment against it.

But it wasn’t until the head of the WHO spoke of an epidemic in March 2020 that states and people realized the seriousness of the situation and more restrictive health measures – sometimes months of confinement – were put in place.

SARS-CoV-2 has already started its deadly journey and will spread very quickly around the world.

The fight against the epidemic has been discovered gradually, often in an irregular manner, explained by the chaotic administration in the United States during the presidency of Donald Trump, often deaf to scientific recommendations.

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Epidemic today

The number of newly recorded deaths from COVID-19 has fallen by 95% since January, according to WHO figures, with 16,000 people still dying from the disease between late March and late April due to the virus.

In many other countries the epidemic has faded into the background. Screening and health monitoring has been reduced to a bare minimum. Disarmament envisaged by WHO.

The crisis phase has “passed, but not Covid”, warned Friday, as Maria van Kerkov, who managed the fight against COVID-19 within the organization, called “not to let our guard down”.

Vaccinations at reported time

Vaccines – which appeared in record time at the end of 2020 – are nevertheless effective against the most severe forms of the disease despite countless mutations of the original virus.

An undeniable scientific success, vaccines, especially those containing messenger RNA, were implemented for the first time, monopolized first by countries that could pay the highest prices, and others left on the ground for very long months.

As of April 30, more than 13.3 billion vaccines have been administered.

Vaccines have also been massively mobilized, fueling skepticism about vaccination in general, supported by massive disinformation campaigns on social networks.

Inequality

Economic disparities and access to care have been brutally exposed. Images of Brazilians standing in long lines with huge oxygen cylinders to save a loved one from suffocation, and countless images of pharaohs in India to cremate bodies are marked.

While the pandemic now seems like background noise in many countries, new variants continue to appear and threaten to restart the infernal machine.

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“The virus continues to mutate and is still capable of causing new waves of contamination and death”, recently underlined the boss of the WHO.

He also drew attention to the ravages of long-term COVID, which more or less disables widespread symptoms.

According to him, one in 10 infections results in chronic COVID, suggesting that hundreds of millions of people may need long-term care, whose scale and economic and psychological cost are still poorly understood.

Avoid the next disaster

The world is now looking for the best way to avoid the next health disaster.

But the international community is still unable to determine with certainty how the virus became transmissible between humans.

When the first cases were detected in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, two theories collided: a spill from a laboratory in the city where the virus was studied, or an intermediate animal that infected people who frequented the local market.

This last theory seems to be favored by most of the scientific community, but a ban by the Chinese authorities has hindered progress in the investigation of origins.

At the WHO, member states have also begun discussing a future binding agreement that would nip the next pandemic in the bud and avoid repeating the same mistakes.

The question is not if, but when it will happen.

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