In-Depth: The challenges of unwinding the WHO’s pandemic declaration

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A lot of us are looking forward to the day when the World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 pandemic officially over. That topic will come up for a vote next month.

A WHO votes every three months on whether to extend the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) for COVID-19. Top health officials have signaled they will likely extend the declaration again.

“The pandemic is far from over,” WHO COVID-19 technical lead Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said this week. “We cannot allow this virus to spread at such an intense level.”

In California, state health officials will no longer require masks indoors at K-12 schools after Friday. For many San Diegans, there is a sense we’re entering a post-pandemic world.

But in interviews, local infectious disease experts say the WHO is likely to take a cautious approach to lifting the PHEIC because the declaration has important legal and logistical consequences.

While the PHEIC is in effect, more than 190 countries are legally required to follow WHO guidelines and drugmakers have granted lower-income countries special access to life-saving products

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