Public health experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) have begun discussing when and how to declare the end of the global COVID-19 crisis, Bloomberg reports.
Bloomberg quoted a source as saying that experts at WHO are discussing conditions that signal the pandemic declared since January 30, 2020 has passed. Announcing the end of the pandemic is not only a symbolic step, but also leads to a reversal of public health policies during the pandemic.
Many countries in the world are starting to restore socio-economic activities, limiting the obligation to wear masks and isolation, opens the border for visitors. Meanwhile, many Asian countries are still reporting record high infection rates.
The number of cases in Germany recently returned to near-record levels. The death rate rose sharply in Hong Kong (China), and mainland China recorded more than 1,000 new cases per day, the first time in almost two years.
Researchers warn that although the number of cases COVID-19 reduced to lower levels in many places, the disease still causes thousands of deaths each year, unlike persistent endemic diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. And there is still a risk of the emergence of new, more dangerous strains.
According to David Heymann, a former WHO epidemiologist, many countries now no longer rely on WHO guidelines, but primarily on national and regional scientific advisory groups.
Mr Heymann said that an important indicator for countries to consider ending the state of emergency is the level of herd immunity, i.e. the percentage of people who have antibodies to the virus after being vaccinated or recovering from an illness. Researchers estimate that around 98% of the UK population is already immune to Corona virus to prevent serious illness.
According to this expert, herd immunity is difficult to achieve because current vaccines do not prevent infection and people who are already infected can still get it again.
In the US, about 98% of people now no longer have to wear masks in indoor public spaces. However, experts are increasingly worried about the BA.2 variant, the Omicron version that is widely circulated in several European countries.