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WHO's chief wants the pandemic declared over in 2023. Some experts say that may not be a good thing.

Despite the temptation to end the pandemic, some leading health experts say it would be better to continue living with the official designation, which keeps up the pressure on authorities and civilians alike to act with caution.

The COVID-19 global health emergency is nearing the three-year mark
The COVID-19 global health emergency is nearing the three-year mark (AN/Robert Norton/Unsplash)

GENEVA (AN) – Everyone wants to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, perhaps none more so than the head of the World Health Organization, which first declared COVID-19 had become a global health emergency nearly three years ago.

"We need to move beyond this emergency situation sometime by the end of the year," WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told Arete News.

WHO's Emergency Committee is scheduled to meet on Friday to consider whether to declare the emergency is over. The meeting will mark three years since COVID-19 was first declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, the highest level of alert that the U.N. health agency can issue.

Soon afterward, WHO issued a declaration on March 11, 2020, that the virus had become a pandemic – the global spread of a new disease.

The committee's role is to advise Tedros, who makes the final call. After three years of COVID-19, he said, nations would be better off if they could manage it like other respiratory viruses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

"I’m confident that 2023 can be the year we move beyond this," Tedros said in a brief interview. "It’s something that will probably always be with us, but we can learn to live with it."

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