WHO downgrades COVID-19, says it's no longer public health emergency

The World Health Organization characterized COVID as a global pandemic in March 2020.

ByMary Kekatos ABCNews logo
Friday, May 5, 2023
COVID-19 no longer a global health emergency, WHO says
The World Health Organization said Friday it was downgrading COVID-19 and no longer characterizing it as a public health emergency. Lauren Glassberg has the details.

The World Health Organization on Friday said it was downgrading COVID-19 and no longer characterizing it as a global health emergency.

The U.N. health agency first declared the coronavirus to be an international crisis on Jan. 30, 2020.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the change during a media briefing held with reporters at the agency's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

But he clarified that this does not mean the pandemic is over.

"It is with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency," he said. "However, that does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat. Last week, COVID-19 claimed a life every three minutes -- and that's just the deaths we know about."

The downgrade comes with the pandemic on a "downward trend" for more than a year due to growing immunity among the global population -- both from vaccination and infection -- as well as a decreasing number of deaths, according to Tedros. This has also led to health systems no longer feeling as a much of a burden as they once did.

"This trend has allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before," he said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.