‘Emergency’ may be over but COVID still a threat, experts say

May 15, 2023 – In the wake of the World Health Organization’s declaration on May 5 that it was ending the COVID global health emergency, experts acknowledged that the disease now poses much less of threat than it has over the past three years—but that some level of threat will continue.

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was one of several experts quoted on the topic in a May 8 STAT article.

“The death toll is going down and the ability of society to function is going up,” he said. But he added that there is no clear demarcation line when a pandemic—a new pathogen that causes widespread disease and death in humans—enters the endemic phase, when people’s immune systems are better able to cope with the pathogen.

There are still too many COVID deaths, Lipsitch said—in the U.S., there are currently about 1,000 each week. But he agreed with the WHO’s decision to end the global health emergency, noting that “lots of things are much worse than they should be and we don’t treat them as emergencies.”

Read the STAT article: Does the end of Covid emergency declarations mean the pandemic is over?