When will COVID-19 stop being a threat to people's lives?
President Biden has announced that the public health emergency declared three years ago and continuing in the United States due to a global pandemic will be lifted on May 11, 2023.
This means that all pandemic-related restrictions will be lifted and that much of the COVID-19 testing and citizen vaccinations will no longer be paid for with federal funds.
While Democrats generally support lifting the emergency in May of this year, Republicans have long been calling for it to be lifted because they believe it restricts the freedom of American citizens and that vaccines, many Republicans believe, can be dangerous to public health.
The announcement of the lifting of the state of emergency in May of this year, not before, has been heavily criticized in conservative media and social media with claims that the danger to health and life from the coronavirus has long since passed.
Meanwhile, on Monday, January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee on COVID-19 ruled that the pandemic remains an international emergency.
WHO chief Tedros Gebreyesus called for continued vigilance and for countries to continue to provide epidemiological surveillance and genomic sequencing data – detecting known or previously unseen genetic changes that could cause the disease – to international organizations. According to the WHO chief, appropriate public health and social distancing measures should also be introduced when necessary.
Tedros Gebreyesus noted that since the beginning of December, the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 worldwide has been increasing, with more than 170,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the past eight weeks. “And these are only reported deaths; we know the real number is much higher,” he said.
The WHO recommends vaccinating people, especially vulnerable groups most at risk, and regularly educating people about the risks of spreading and mutating the virus.
Worldwide, 13.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered since the pandemic began three years ago, with 89 percent of health care workers and 81 percent of people over age 60 vaccinated at least once, according to WHO.
In the U.S., 79 percent of the U.S. population has been vaccinated, meaning nearly 263 million people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Sixty-eight percent of the U.S. population is considered fully vaccinated, meaning they have received more than one dose of the vaccine.
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