COVID-19 remains a public health emergency of international concern.

The World Health Organization said in a statement today, the pandemic is at a transition point and needs to be navigated carefully to avoid negative consequences.

On Friday, The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed Members and Advisors of the Emergency Committee to meeting via teleconference.

The Director-General says we are in a better position than we were a year ago during the peak of the Omicron transmission, there were still 170,000 COVID deaths globally over the past eight weeks.

In addition to that surveillance and genetic sequencing have declined, making it difficult to track known variants and detect new ones. Healthcare systems are currently struggling with COVID, the flu, RSV, staff shortages and fatigued healthcare workers. Vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics have been and remain critical in preventing severe disease, saving lives and taking the pressure off health systems and health workers globally. However, the COVID-19 response remains hobbled in too many countries unable to provide these tools to the populations most in need, older people and health workers. He thanked the Chair, Members, and Advisors of the Committee for their work.

The WHO says the evolution of the virus remains concerning. They urge countries to remain vigilant and to continue reporting on surveillance genomic sequence data.

13.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, with 89% of health workers and 81% of older adults (over 60 years) having completed the primary series.

The Committee however, is still concerned about the high number of death due to COVID, compared to other respiratory diseases, the insufficient vaccine uptake in low- and middle-income countries, as well as in the highest-risk groups globally, and the uncertainty associated with emerging variants. They acknowledged that COVID remains a dangerous infectious disease that could still cause a lot of damage to health and health systems.

They say eliminating the virus is unlikely, but reducing the severity of it’s devastating impact, is achievable.

This week marks the third year since COVID arrived in 2020.