Statement on the thirteenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic – World Health Organization

The WHO Director-General has the particular pleasure of transmitting the Report associated with the thirteenth meeting from the International Wellness Regulations (2005) (IHR) Crisis Committee regarding the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic, held on Thursday, 13 October
2022, from 12: 00 to 16: 00 CEST.

The particular WHO Director-General concurs with the advice offered by the Committee regarding the particular ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and determines that the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The WHO Director-General considered the advice provided by the Committee concerning the proposed Temporary Recommendations. The set of Temporary Suggestions issued by the WHO Director-General is presented at the particular end associated with this statement.

The WHO Director-General expresses his sincere gratitude to the Chair, and Members of the Panel, as well as to the Committee’s Advisors.


Proceedings from the conference

The particular WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed Users and Experts of the Emergency Committee, all of whom were convened by videoconference.

Dr Tedros highlighted that weekly reported COVID-19 deaths have reached levels comparable to the beginning of the particular pandemic and that almost two-thirds of the world’s population has completed a primary course of COVID-19 vaccination. However , he expressed
concern over persistent inequities in vaccine coverage plus access in order to antiviral and therapeutic treatments between countries, reductions in epidemiological plus laboratory surveillance activities for COVID-19 that are necessary to monitor the particular evolution
and impact from the virus, and the removal of many public health and social measures ahead of the expected increase in transmission over the particular coming months, particularly during the approaching winter in the Northern hemisphere.  

The Representative associated with the Office of Legal Counsel briefed the People and Advisors on their roles and responsibilities as well as the mandate of the Crisis Committee under the relevant articles from the IHR.

The Ethics Officer from the Department associated with Compliance, Risk Management, and Integrity briefed Associates and Advisers on their roles plus responsibilities. Members and Advisors were also reminded of their duty of confidentiality as to the meeting discussions
and the work of the Committee, as well as their individual responsibility to disclose to THAT, in the timely manner, any interests of a personal, professional, financial, intellectual or commercial nature that may give rise in order to a perceived or direct conflict
associated with interest. Each Member and Advisor who was present was surveyed. No conflicts of interest were identified.  

The meeting was handed over towards the Chair from the Emergency Committee regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Didier Houssin. The particular Chair introduced the objectives of the conference: to provide views to the WHO ELSE Director-General on whether the COVID-19 outbreak
continues to constitute a PHEIC, and to review temporary recommendations in order to States Parties.  

The WHICH Secretariat offered a global overview of status of the particular COVID-19 pandemic and outlined several challenges towards the ongoing response. The presentation focused on the global COVID-19 epidemiological situation; the ongoing evolution and unpredictability
of the particular virus plus the impact of current and future SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, including descendent lineages of these variations; concurrent circulation of other respiratory viruses including influenza; progress towards WHO COVID-19 vaccination targets,
including focuses on for the highest priority groups in all nations; and planning scenarios for the ongoing response to COVID-19 and ending the particular emergency globally.

Deliberative session

The Panel acknowledged progress in controlling the outbreak in many countries with the number of severe cases and deaths substantially decreased and high levels associated with population immunity achieved inside many countries through vaccination and/or infection,
leading to resumption of economic plus social life and lifting of most COVID-19-related restrictions.

Nevertheless , the Committee was concerned that will despite being well into the third year from the pandemic, there remained considerable uncertainties as to the further trajectory of the particular virus as well because to the genetic and antigenic characteristics and clinical
impact associated with future versions. The Committee also remained concerned over the increasing difficulties in quantifying the broader COVID-19 burden on health systems including thrombotic plus endocrine complications as well as the particular extent and burden of Post
COVID-19 condition. More broadly, Panel members recognized that many wellness systems remain under pressure because of some other health emergencies and competing health priorities, in addition to the challenges posed by COVID-19. In this context, the particular
Committee expressed issue about the heavy workload plus associated burnout being experienced by health care workers worldwide, leading in order to an increased deficit within the workforce.

The particular Committee furthermore expressed problem on the reduction in epidemiological and laboratory surveillance with regard to SARS-CoV-2. This impedes assessments of currently circulating and emerging alternatives of the virus, which includes genomic plus phenotypic tests,
and hinders abilities to interpret trends in tranny and problem of disease. The Panel continued in order to highlight the particular importance associated with expediting the integration of COVID-19 monitoring into additional routine security systems, including the integration
of COVID-19 surveillance using the surveillance associated with other respiratory pathogens, community-based surveillance, as well as the potential value of supplementing it with wastewater surveillance.  

The Committee acknowledged the particular ongoing work of WHO ALSO and partners to achieve WHO- and SAGE-recommended vaccination targets, particularly reaching 100% vaccination coverage among those in the highest priority groups. Nonetheless, worry remained regarding the
lack of sharing associated with data needed to monitor progress of vaccination campaigns, and–where data is available–the persistent inequities in access to vaccines along with WHO-recommended therapeutics. These inequities in access have resulted
in numerous COVID-19 fatalities that could have otherwise been avoided. The Committee acknowledged the disruption the pandemic continues to have on routine (non–COVID-19) immunization activities, which has repeatedly manifested since outbreaks associated with vaccine-preventable
diseases in areas where essential immunization activities possess lapsed since early 2020.  

The particular Committee acknowledged that several national COVID-19 policies reflect a perception that the emergency may be over and that will governments, healthcare workers plus societies within general are experiencing “COVID-19 fatigue. ” The Panel therefore emphasized
the need to enhance social listening and community engagement as means to better tailor risk communications and contextualize policies, that will help people to continue to take the actions needed to protect their own health. The Committee highlighted
persistent misinformation related in order to many aspects of the COVID-19 response, particularly the particular dangers presented by pervasive disinformation upon vaccination, shot hesitancy and the convergence of organized anti-vaccination efforts in a lot of countries.

Status of the Public Health Emergency of World Concern

The Committee noted a clear decoupling associated with case incidence from severe disease, and the high seroprevalence estimates resulting from combined contamination and/or vaccination across almost all WHO regions.   Seroprevalence data may not necessarily reveal true
immune protection but seems to reflect protection against serious disease, plus such studies continue in order to be important to monitor immune response over time.

In assessing the criteria for a public health emergency of international concern, the Panel agreed that will,   although the general public perception is that the pandemic is over in some parts of the world, this remains the public wellness event that continues
to adversely and strongly affect the health of the world’s populace, that presently there remains a risk associated with new options exacerbating the particular ongoing health impact, especially as winter approaches in the Northern hemisphere (and learning from the Southern
Hemisphere), plus there is still a need for a coordinated international reaction to address the inequalities inside access in order to life-saving tools.

Within advising the particular WHO Director-General that the occasion still constitutes a PHEIC, the Committee developed the following arguments underpinning its guidance.

First, the clear decoupling in incident instances and severe disease has led to a notion within communities that will the crisis may become as well as that measures in order to reduce transmission are no longer warranted. Although the quantity of weekly deaths reported to WHO is near the lowest since the particular pandemic began, it remains high compared with various other respiratory infections, and the added burden of COVID-19 related problems and Article COVID-19 Condition is also higher and its full impact not completely understood. The particular
development from the break out during the upcoming winter season in the Northern hemisphere must also be considered.  

Second, although continuing evolution of the virus is expected to continue, the particular genetic and antigenic features of future variants cannot yet end up being reliably predicted, partly due to the current gaps in global surveillance that will hinder identifying and evaluating
these changes early. In addition , the continuous virus advancement, with potentially increased properties of defense escape, may pose problems to present vaccines plus therapeutics.

Finally, inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics persist between and within countries, such that the highest priority groups do not really currently have entry to safe and effective vaccine and therapeutics everywhere.

Given the above considerations, the Committee concurred that continued coordination associated with the international response is necessary to reliably evaluate the particular health effect of the outbreak, monitor plus assess the progression from the virus as well as the influence of long term
variants, in order to intensify attempts to ensure accessibility to effective and safe countermeasures, and to enhance tailored risk communication and local community engagement activities.

Overall, the Panel considered that this situation continues to be dynamic and requires frequent reassessments, which the termination of the PHEIC, when considered feasible, should be implemented as safely as possible. To this end, the Committee requested
the particular WHO Secretariat to provide additional assessment and analysis for an intersessional discussion to further support the Committee’s deliberations. The Committee also recommended to review the potential negative consequences of terminating
the PHEIC, as well as to consider the related provisions of the IHR (2005) in relation to short term recommendations, which can continue in order to be formally issued after the termination of a PHEIC, or to standing recommendations.    

The Panel considered that, in view from the current situation, whereby the reaction efforts inside many nations have reduced the problem of COVID-19, but at the same time inequalities in entry to life-saving interventions and uncertainties with regard
to the evolution of the computer virus still persist, the Temporary Recommendations require an enhanced focus on three key focal points: strengthen integrated surveillance plus achieve vaccination targets regarding at risk-groups; continue to develop strategies to
boost access to affordable therapeutics; strengthen pandemic preparedness planning, while continuing to protect the most-at risk populations.

The rationale for these priority recommendations is to ensure that these occur:

  1. the appropriate strategies, systems and resources are within place to detect any adverse change in the epidemiology of COVID-19, due, for example , to the particular emergence of a new more transmissible variant with more immune escape, capable associated with causing more severe
  2. Member States have the necessary capacity to surge public wellness and sociable measures in response to a new event;
  3. the particular global population is appropriately protected by an effective and equitable vaccination programme;
  4. strategies carry on to be developed that will increase fair entry to inexpensive therapeutics, and
  5. progress in the direction of a robust worldwide pandemic readiness architecture will be maintained.

The Committee anticipates that meaningful improvement with implementing these measures would create a situation compatible along with terminating the PHEIC related to the particular COVID-19 pandemic at the future meeting, and that the situation could continue in order to be characterized
as outbreak even if the PHEIC is terminated. The Panel further believes that these types of recommendations will support appropriate public health messaging on the evolving risk of COVID-19, despite community plus political “pandemic fatigue. ”


Temporary Recommendations issued from the WHO Director-General to just about all States Events

1. Strengthen SARS-CoV-2 surveillance within humans to maintain (or, where required, enhance) capability to identify and assess emerging variants and significant changes in order to COVID-19 epidemiology and to focus on better understanding the particular burden associated with COVID-19 in all areas, and its impact on wellness and open public health services.   It
is usually recommended that will States Celebrations prepare intended for sustainable incorporation of SARS-CoV-2 surveillance with other surveillance systems, and implement the WHO’s guidance on Public health surveillance to get COVID-19 – interim guidance. With the particular upcoming North
hemisphere influenza season plus in see of the return of seasonal influenza epidemics, Says Parties should further integrate disease monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza by leveraging and enhancing the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response
System (GISRS), complemented with other security models or even studies, to monitor the particular relative co-circulation of these viruses in order to inform responses.

2. Strengthen (or where needed, implement) surveillance to keep track of presence plus evolution associated with SARS-COV-2 within animal populations. Continue to conduct epidemiological investigations of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the human-animal
interface and implement targeted surveillance upon potential animal hosts plus reservoirs.

3. Achieve national COVID-19 vaccination targets in accordance with the updated WHO Global COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy, and the WHO SAGE Prioritization Roadmap, which both emphasize fully protecting those in high priority teams.  

4. Support timely uptake of accurate therapeutics and timely SARS-CoV-2 testing, linked to WHO recommended therapeutics . States Parties should offer access to COVID-19 remedies for vulnerable populations, particularly immunosuppressed
people, and improve access to specific early treatments for patients at higher risk pertaining to severe condition outcomes. Worldwide efforts to increase access in order to affordable therapeutics must be improved.   Local production plus technology transfer associated
to vaccines, other therapeutics and diagnostics ought to be encouraged and supported, as increased production capacity can contribute to global equitable access in order to therapeutics.

5. Maintain the strong national response to the COVID-19 pandemic by updating national preparedness and response plans in line with the priorities plus potential scenarios outlined within the 2022 WHOM Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response Plan and the recently published
WHO HAVE COVID-19 policy briefs .

6. Address the infodemic, risk marketing communications and neighborhood engagement issues, as well as the divergent perceptions in risk among scientific communities, political leaders and the general public.

7. Continue to adapt the particular use of appropriate efficient, individual-level protective measures in order to reduce transmitting , appropriately tailored to the changing epidemiological context which includes changing risks associated with
upcoming variants associated with concern, as well as the need to tailor community health insurance and social measure along with such modifications, including because relevant meant for mass gathering events.

8. Maintain essential health, interpersonal, and education services , in particular gain access to important immunization solutions.

9. Continue in order to adjust any remaining international travel-related steps , based on danger assessments, and also to not need proof of vaccination against COVID-19 since a prerequisite for worldwide travel.

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