Three years later, WHO maintains maximum alert level for the COVID-19 pandemic

Three years later, WHO maintains the maximum alert level for the pandemic ;mie of COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic, which is entering its fourth year and has already claimed millions of lives, remains serious enough to maintain the maximum alert level launched three years ago to the day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed on Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern as it first did on January 30, 2020.

The world then had less than 100 cases and no deaths outside of China. 

The WHO on Friday identified more than 752 million patients and nearly 7 million deaths, according to official figures , far below the reality of the organization's own admission.

Its chief executive, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, followed the recommendations of the COVID-19 Emergency Committee, experts who met for the 14th time last week.

“As we enter the fourth year of the pandemic, there is no doubt that we are in a much better situation now than a year ago when the Omicron wave was at its peak,” the WHO boss said at the opening. of its Executive Committee meeting Monday in Geneva for a week.

But, he immediately tempered: “Since the beginning of December, the deaths reported each week have increased. Over the past eight weeks, more than 170,000 people have lost their lives to COVID-19.”

China Again 

“My message is clear: “Do not underestimate this virus, it has surprised us and will continue to surprise us and it will continue to kill, unless we do more to provide the sanitary means to the people who have it. need and to fight disinformation on a global scale”, insisted the director general last week.

For the week of January 16-22, half of the 40,000 official deaths were recorded in China.

Despite some of the toughest health restrictions in the world, variants of the virus have managed to break through and Late last year, in the face of popular discontent, the Chinese authorities were forced to abandon the zero COVID policy.

The gigantic wave of infections, which swept the country, now seems to be diminishing. Officially the number of deaths has dropped by almost 80%.

Scarred by the failures at the start of 2020, many countries had introduced restrictions for travelers from China.

In fact, the alert launched on January 30, 2020, served by an unreminiscent name, failed to convince the authorities and the general public of the urgency of the situation. It wasn't until March 11 when Dr. Tedros spoke publicly about a “pandemic” for the first time that the worst health crisis in over a hundred years was taken seriously.

Still not ready 

Three years later, the Committee considers that “the COVID-19 pandemic is probably at a transition point” but the head of the WHO regrets that surveillance and genetic sequencing, which make it possible to follow the evolution of the virus and its displacements, fell sharply. He also regrets that too few people are properly vaccinated, whether in poor countries due to lack of serums, means and mistrust or in better-off countries where weariness is emerging and where the anti-vax movement has sown doubt, despite numerous studies showing the benefits of vaccines.

“We cannot control the COVID-19 virus, but we can do more to address vulnerabilities in populations and health systems,” said launched Doctor Tedros on Monday.

But the world remains “dangerously unprepared” for the next pandemic, the Red Cross warned in a report on the lessons of the pandemic published on Monday.

“The next pandemic could be imminent and if the experience of COVID-19 does not accelerate preparations, what will?” asked Jagan Chapagain, the general secretary. of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). 

“Global preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic was inadequate and we are still suffering the consequences. There will be no excuses” if we do not prepare, he stressed.