The COVID-19 PHEIC is "Officially" Over

The fake has ended, but the lies continue.

The Director General of the World Health Organization has stated that the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) has officially ended.

Statement on the fifteenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic

The WHO Director-General has the pleasure of transmitting the Report of the fifteenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic, held on Thursday 4 May 2023, from 12:00 to 17:00 CET.

During the deliberative session, the Committee members highlighted the decreasing trend in COVID-19  deaths, the decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, and the high levels of population immunity to SARS-CoV-2. The Committee’s position has been evolving over the last several months. While acknowledging the remaining uncertainties posted by potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2, they advised that it is time to transition to long-term management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WHO Director-General concurs with the advice offered by the Committee regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He determines that COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue which no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

The WHO Director-General considered the advice provided by the Committee regarding the proposed Temporary Recommendations and issued them as per the below statement. The WHO Director-General will convene an IHR Review Committee to advise on Standing Recommendations for the long-term management of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, taking into account the 2023-2025 COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. During this transition, States Parties are advised to continue following the issued Temporary Recommendations. The Director-General expressed his sincere gratitude to the Chair, the Members, and the Advisors of the Committee for their engagement and advice during the last three years.

The COVID-19 PHEIC is "Officially" Over.

Temporary Recommendations issued by the WHO Director-General to all States Parties:

Sustain the national capacity gains and prepare for future events to avoid the occurrence of a cycle of panic and neglect. States Parties should consider how to improve country readiness for future outbreaks. In alignment with WHO guidance, States Parties should update respiratory pathogen pandemic preparedness plans incorporating learnings from national and sub-national After Action Reviews. States Parties should continue to restore health programmes adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Preparedness and resilience for Emerging Threats; Strengthening pandemic preparedness planning for respiratory pathogens: policy brief; WHO COVID-19 policy briefs; Emergency Response Reviews)

Integrate COVID-19 vaccination into life course vaccination programmes. States Parties should maintain efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage for all people in the high-priority groups (as defined by the SAGE Roadmap of April 2023) with WHO recommended vaccines and continue to actively address vaccine acceptance and demand issues with communities. (Global COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy in a Changing World (July 2022 update); SAGE Roadmap (Updated March 2023); Good practice statement on the use of variant-containing COVID-19 vaccines; Continued collaboration with IVAC and others to summarise VE studies, Behavioural and social drivers of vaccination: tools and practical guidance for achieving high uptake.)

Bring together information from diverse respiratory pathogen surveillance data sources to allow for a comprehensive situational awareness. States Parties should maintain reporting of mortality and morbidity data as well as variant surveillance information to WHO. Surveillance should incorporate information from an appropriate mix of representative sentinel populations, event-based surveillance, human wastewater surveillance, sero-surveillance, and surveillance of selected animal populations known to be at risk of SARS-COV-2. States Parties should leverage the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and support the establishment of the WHO Global Coronavirus Laboratory Network (CoViNet). (Public health surveillance for COVID-19)

Prepare for medical countermeasures to be authorized within national regulatory frameworks to ensure long-term availability and supply. States Parties should strengthen their regulatory authorities to support long-term authorization and use of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics. (Therapeutics and COVID-19: living guideline; COVID-19 Clinical Care Pathway; Emergency Use Listing procedures; Prequalification procedures for vaccines; Prequalification procedures for in vitro diagnostics)

Continue to work with communities and their leaders to achieve strong, resilient, and inclusive risk communications and community engagement (RCCE) and infodemic management programmes. State Parties should adapt RCCE and infodemic management strategies and interventions to local contexts.

Continue to lift COVID-19 international travel related health measures, based on risk assessments, and to not require any proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as a prerequisite for international travel. (Interim position paper: considerations regarding proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travellers; Policy considerations for implementing a risk-based approach to international travel in the context of COVID-19)

Continue to support research to improve vaccines that reduce transmission and have broad applicability; to understand the full spectrum, incidence and impact of post COVID-19 condition and the evolution of SARS-COV-2 in immunocompromised populations; and to develop relevant integrated care pathways.

by James Roguski

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