How will the world decide when the pandemic is over?
There is no clear definition of when a pandemic begins and ends, and the level of threat a global outbreak poses can vary from country to country.
“It is somewhat of a subjective judgment because it is not just about the number of cases. It’s about severity and it’s about impact,” said Dr Michael Ryan, head of emergencies at the World Health Organization.
In January 2020, WHO designated the virus a global health crisis of “international concern”. A few months later in March, the United Nations health agency described the outbreak as a “pandemic”, reflecting the fact that the virus had spread to nearly every continent and many officials Other medical say it can be described as such.
The pandemic could be considered widely ended when WHO decides the virus is no longer a state of emergency of international concern, its expert committee has appointed a three-monthly reassessment. But when the most acute phases of the crisis abate within countries can be different.
“There won’t be a day when someone says, ‘Okay, the pandemic is over,'” said Dr Chris Woods, an infectious disease expert at Duke University. While there is no universally agreed criteria, he said countries will likely find ways to reduce cases in a sustainable way over time.
Scientists expect COVID-19 to eventually turn into a more predictable virus like the flu, which means it will cause seasonal outbreaks but not the massive outbreaks that the flu-like outbreaks are. we’re seeing right now. But even then, Woods said, some habits, such as wearing masks in public places, could continue.
“Even after the pandemic is over, COVID will still be with us,” he said.
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