After three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have reverted to the pre-pandemic era by lifting vaccine and testing requirements, while others have eased restrictions.
Japan, for example, has categorized COVID-19 as well as seasonal flu.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced earlier this month that he had ordered his cabinet to reclassify COVID-19, putting it in the same category as seasonal flu, rubella and chickenpox in the spring.
“In order to further advance the efforts of ‘living with Corona’ and return Japan to a state of normality, we will transfer the various policies and measures so far in phases,” Kishida said.
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On Monday, the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the pandemic is not over yet.
“As you know, the emergency committee met on Friday to consider whether this remains the case. The committee informed me that, in its view, COVID-19 remains a global health emergency. And I agree,” Tedros said during the 152nd meeting of the WHO Executive Board.
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WHO’s Tedros: COVID “remains a global health emergency.” pic.twitter.com/CrM7oADR2g
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Tedros agreed with the Committee’s assessment of the current COVID-19 pandemic and classified it as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).”
The committee, along with Tedros, believed that the COVID-19 pandemic was likely in a transition phase.
“The board recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic may be approaching a tipping point. Achieving higher levels of population immunity globally, either through infection and/or vaccination, may limit the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on morbidity and mortality, but there is no doubt that this virus will remain a persistently established pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future.”
The WHO is still urging many countries to vaccinate the population with the COVID vaccine despite the risks.
“WHO urges countries: to remain vigilant and continue to report surveillance and genomic sequencing data; recommend appropriate targeted public health and social measures (PHSM) as appropriate; vaccinate the most at-risk population to reduce serious illness and death; and conduct regular risk communication, respond to public concerns, and engage communities to improve understanding and implementation of countermeasures,” the statement said.
“The committee was informed that 13.1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered globally, with 89% of healthcare workers and 81% of the elderly (over 60 years) having completed the primary series. Significant progress has also been made in: developing effective medical countermeasures; building global capacity for genomic sequencing and genomic epidemiology; and in understanding how to manage the infodemic in the new information ecosystem including social media platforms,” it added.