The director of the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday that he was “confident” Covid-19 pandemic will end in 2023.
Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the comments to reporters at a press conference in Geneva.
“We are certainly in a much better position now than we have been at any time during the pandemic,” Dr Ghebreyesus said.
He noted that for the past four weeks, the weekly number of reported deaths has been lower than before the pandemic was declared in March 2020.
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“I am confident that this year we can say that COVID-19 is over as a public health emergency of international concern,” he added.
COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to decline around the world.
As of March 6, weekly deaths stood at 5,048 worldwide.
That’s a decrease of more than 26% from the previous week – and down from the peak of 102,000 deaths in January 2021, according to WHO data.
Weekly COVID-19 cases fell to 812,255 worldwide, a decrease of 21.65% from the previous week. They peaked at 44.3 million in December 2022.
“Last week there were still over 5,000 reported deaths.”
In the United States, as of March 15, weekly cases had fallen to 149,955, after peaking at 5.6 million on January 19, 2022, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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Weekly deaths in the country were 1,706, down from an all-time high of 23,478 on January 13, 2021 and another increase of 17,357 on February 2, 2022.
‘We’re not there yet’
However, despite its optimistic forecast, the WHO is not quite ready to announce the end of the pandemic at this precise moment.
“We’re not there yet. Last week there were still over 5,000 reported deaths,” Dr Ghebreyesus said during the briefing.
“That’s 5,000 too many for a disease that can be prevented and treated.”
Dr Ghebreyesus also stressed the need to determine how the pandemic started.
“Last Sunday, the WHO was made aware of data posted to the GISAID database in late January, and withdrawn again recently,” he said.
“The data, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Preventionrelates to samples taken from the Huanan market in Wuhan in 2020.”
Dr Ghebreyesus said that while this particular data does not provide a “definitive answer” to the origins of the pandemic, all information is important to achieve this goal.
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“This data could have – and should have – been shared three years ago,” he continued. “We continue to call on China to be transparent in sharing data, to conduct necessary investigations, and to share findings. Understanding how the pandemic began remains both a moral and scientific imperative.”
“We are certainly in a much better position now than we have been at any time during the pandemic.”
Dr. Marc Siegel, Clinical Professor of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York and a Fox News medical contributor, said over the weekend that he questions the WHO’s reluctance to signal an end to the international emergency despite the weekly COVID death toll lower than before the pandemic.
“Under strong Chinese influence, the actions of WHO leaders have been erratic at best, delaying the designation of a pandemic for nearly two months after it had spread widely and failed to bring China to be open and transparent about origins,” Dr. Siegel told Fox. News Digital in an interview.
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“The pandemic has exposed the WHO at the highest levels to be woefully inadequate.”
In January 2023, President Joe Biden announced that he end the COVID emergency May 11.
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He previously said the pandemic was “over” in September 2022.