WHO Delivers 12 Long-Awaited Words on COVID

Agency says the virus is no longer a global health emergency
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2023 10:04 AM CDT
On COVID, a Long-Awaited World Milestone
A health-care worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Oct. 5, 2021, in Miami.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

The leader of the World Health Organization delivered 12 words Friday that were three years in the making: “With great hope, I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” said WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, per the New York Times. The declaration is more symbolic than anything else, given that many countries already have lifted their own emergency designations and have moved past restrictions in regard to masks and social distancing. In the US, for example, the designation of a public health emergency is due to officially expire on May 11, notes the AP. Still, the WHO's designation is seen as an important milestone, per the Wall Street Journal.

  • Toll: The WHO has logged more than 765 million cases, though the figure is seen as a "vast undercount," per the Times. The agency also has logged 7 million official deaths, though Tedros says the actual figure is more like 20 million, per the AP.
  • 500 a day: The CDC said this week that COVID dropped to the fourth leading cause of death in the US last year, though it still killed 500 people per day, reports the Washington Post. COVID was seen as the underlying cause in about 186,000 deaths and a contributing factor in another 58,000. That puts it behind heart disease (699,000), cancer (607,000), and unintentional injury (218,000, a category that includes drug overdoses).

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