COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency, the World Health Organization said Friday, marking a symbolic end to the devastating coronavirus pandemic that triggered once-unthinkable lockdowns, upended economies worldwide and killed at least 7 million people worldwide.
“It’s with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“That does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat,” he said, adding he wouldn’t hesitate to reconvene experts to reassess the situation should COVID-19 “put our world in peril.”
The U.N. health agency says that thousands of people are still dying from the virus every week, and there have been recent spikes in cases in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
President Biden signed a bill in April officially ending the U.S. national public health emergency over COVID.
How many people have died from COVID?
WHO reports nearly 7 million confirmed deaths from COVID-19 worldwide since the virus was first identified in an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
There have been more than 765 million confirmed cases of the disease, and new variants continue to emerge, raising concerns about ongoing spread.
More than 13 billion doses of vaccine have been administered to people around the globe. “COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death,” WHO advises, “but some people will still get ill from COVID-19 after vaccination.”
COVID was the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
Thanks for reading CBS NEWS.
Create your free account or log in
for more features.