CNN | Extract
ATLANTA - It’s time to start thinking about our future with Covid-19, which has killed more than 6.8 million people around the world since the first case was identified three years ago.
While the virus remains a global health emergency, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday the pandemic is at a “transition point.”
WHO’s international health regulations emergency committee – the key group that decides whether or not something is a “public health emergency of international concern” – met last Friday.
While the committee agreed that Covid-19 is still an emergency, it also started to outline how the world should “transition in a safe manner” once that designation is lifted.
In a statement released on Monday, the committee urged WHO to propose ideas on how to maintain “the global and national focus on Covid-19” once it is no longer deemed an emergency.
Its key point: The virus is here to stay.
The committee’s statement said:
“Achieving higher levels of population immunity globally, either through infection and/or vaccination, may limit the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on morbidity and mortality.
“But there is little doubt that this virus will remain a permanently established pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future.
“As such, long-term public health action is critically needed,” the committee said in the statement.
“While eliminating this virus from human and animal reservoirs is highly unlikely, mitigation of its devastating impact on morbidity and mortality is achievable and should continue to be a prioritised goal.”
In a list of temporary recommendations, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said countries should continue vaccinating people and incorporate Covid-19 shots into routine care, improve disease surveillance; maintain a strong health care system to avoid “a panic-neglect cycle”, continue to fight misinformation and adjust international travel measures based on risk assessment.
On Monday the White House set out how it will transition out of its state of emergency.
President Joe Biden said he intends to end the Covid-19 national and public health emergencies on 11 May.
He had renewed the emergency declaration last month for what is expected to be the final time.
The end of the emergency would also mean the end of many pandemic-era benefits.
Most Americans covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance plans have been able to obtain Covid-19 tests and vaccines at no cost during the pandemic.
Once the emergency ends, people on Medicare will generally face out-of-pocket costs for at-home testing and all treatment.
However, vaccines will continue to be covered at no cost.