WHO and Biden-Harris Administration End COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
We’ve all been waiting for it, whether with joy or apprehension, the formal end of the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 12, 2023. Coinciding with that move, the Biden-Harrison Administration is additionally no longer requiring non-U.S. travelers entering the United States via air, land and seaports of entry to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or provide related proof of vaccination upon request, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), which fully supports the decision.
Meanwhile, earlier in the month, on May 4, 2023, World Health Organization (WHO) committee members highlighted the decreasing trend in COVID-19 deaths, the decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, and the high levels of population immunity to SARS-CoV-2. While acknowledging the remaining uncertainties posted by potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2, they advised that it is time to transition to long-term management. Concurring, the WHO Director-General determined that COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue, which no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
Simultaneously, a fact sheet from the Department of Health and Human Services reassures the public that, “Due to the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to combatting COVID-19, we are now in a better place in our response than at any point of the pandemic and well-positioned to transition out of the emergency phase and end the COVID-19 public health emergency. Over the last two years, the Biden-Harris Administration has effectively implemented the largest adult vaccination program in U.S. history, with over 270 million people receiving at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. The administration has also made lifesaving treatments widely available, with more than 15 million courses administered … As a result of these and other efforts, COVID-19 is no longer the disruptive force it once was. Since January 2021, COVID-19 deaths have declined by 95% and hospitalizations are down nearly 91% …
“Still, we know so many people continue to be affected by COVID-19, particularly seniors, people who are immunocompromised and people with disabilities. That is why our response to the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, remains a public health priority. To ensure an orderly transition, we have been working for months so that we can continue to meet the needs of those affected by COVID-19.”
“As we mark the current phase in terms of the pandemic, this latest development … will help further pave the way for business travel and its critical role in supporting and growing economies, companies, and teams around the world. It will also help free up critical time and resources, such as global staff and operations of airlines and airports, contributing to an improved passenger experience,” Suzanne Neufang, CEO of GBTA, says.