The WHO Director-General reported on the 15th session of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) Emergency Committee on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic, held from 12 to 4 May 2023. I am honored to be able to send you a letter. :00-17:00 CET.
During the deliberation session, committee members highlighted a downward trend in COVID-19 deaths, a decline in COVID-19-related hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, and high levels of herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Did. The Commission’s position has evolved over the past few months, as they move toward long-term management of the COVID-19 pandemic while acknowledging the remaining uncertainties presented by the potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2. I advised that the time had come to do so.
The WHO Director-General agrees with the advice provided by the Commission regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He has determined that COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health problem and is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)..
The WHO Director-General considered the advice provided by the Commission on the proposed interim recommendations and issued them in accordance with the following statements. WHO Director-General convenes IHR Review Committee to advise on standing recommendations on long-term management of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, considering COVID-19 strategic preparedness and response plans for 2023-2025 . During this transition, parties are encouraged to continue to follow the Temporary Recommendations issued. The Executive Secretary expressed his sincere gratitude to the Chair, Members and Advisors of the Commission for their commitment and advice over the past three years.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the members and advisors of the Emergency Committee convened via videoconference. He noted that the number of deaths and hospitalizations reported each week continues to decline, while surveillance reports to WHO have declined significantly, and inequitable access to life-saving interventions is a major concern. expressed concern that it continues and that pandemic fatigue continues to grow. The Director-General announced the issuance of the 2023-2025 COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, which aims to guide countries in their transition to long-term management of COVID-19. In this plan, he outlines key actions for countries to consider in five areas: joint monitoring, community protection, safe and scalable care, access to measures, and emergency coordination. The Executive Director thanked Prof. Hussain for his leadership in leading the Commission over the past three years, and the expertise, dedication and commitment of each of the Commission members and advisors.
A representative from the Legal Counsel Office briefed the members and advisors of the Commission on their roles, responsibilities and powers under the relevant provisions of the IHR. The Compliance, Risk Management and Ethics Division’s Ethics Officer reminded members and advisors of their confidentiality regarding Committee discussions and Committee work and their personal responsibility for timely disclosure to WHO. Interests of a personal, professional, financial, intellectual or commercial nature that may give rise to perceived or direct conflicts of interest. No conflicts of interest were identified for the members and advisors present.
Professor Didier Houssain, chairman of the Emergency Committee, introduced the purpose of the meeting. That is, he will provide views to the WHO Director-General on whether the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to constitute her PHEIC, and consider temporary recommendations to Parties.
Although global risk assessments remain high, there is evidence that risks to human health are decreasing, primarily due to high population-level immunity from infection, vaccination, or both. Consistent virulence of currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 omicron substrains compared to previously circulating omicron substrains; improved clinical case management. These factors have led to a significant decline in the weekly number of COVID-19-related deaths, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions globally since the beginning of the pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve, but currently prevalent variants do not appear to be associated with increased severity.
WHO provided an update on the global vaccination situation and consideration of the possible termination of PHEIC. The committee was informed that worldwide he has received 13.3 billion doses of her COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, 89% of HCWs and 82% of adults 60 years and older have completed the primary series (the first 1 or 2 doses recommended according to the vaccine schedule), but these priority groups Coverage varies by region.
At the request of the Committee, the WHO Secretariat provided an overview of the status of integration of COVID-19 surveillance into the global influenza surveillance and response system and an opportunity to streamline this. Process for issuing Standing Recommendations under the IHR. Potential regulatory implications for the Emergency Use List (EUL) when PHEIC is terminated. The Executive Director continues to allow him to use the EUL procedure, so the termination of PHEIC should not affect access to vaccines and diagnostics for which he has already received an EUL. Parties will continue to have access to these vaccines and diagnostics (if manufacturers continue to produce them). COVAX will also continue to provide funded dosage and delivery support through 2023, subject to demand. This continuity enables a smooth transition from EUL to vaccines and diagnostics prequalification. The majority of therapeutics used to treat COVID-19 are diversion drugs already approved for other indications, so the termination of PHEIC should not affect their regulatory status. .
Council on the State of PHEIC
The committee considered three criteria for PHEIC. Whether COVID-19 1) continues to be an extraordinary event, 2) the public health risk to other countries due to international spread, and 3) whether a coordinated international response may be required. I don’t know. They discussed the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic. They acknowledged that while SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread and evolve, it is no longer an anomaly or an unexpected event. The Committee recognized that the Director-General may, depending on the circumstances, decide to convene his IHR Emergency Committee on COVID-19.
The COVID-19 PHEIC prompted countries to strengthen functional capacities, particularly related to emergency coordination, joint monitoring, clinical care, and risk communication and communication engagement. The world has made remarkable progress since his PHEIC was declared in January 2020. That COVID-19 can no longer be considered a PHEIC should be seen as a tribute to international coordination and commitment to global health.
As at past meetings, the committee deliberated on the potential benefits and problems posed by maintaining a PHEIC. While PHEIC has been a valuable tool in supporting the global response to COVID-19, the Commission believes it is the right time to move towards the long-term management of SARS-CoV-2 as an ongoing health problem. Agreed on one thing.
Going forward, the Commission will advise the Executive Director on continued recommendations for the long-term risks posed by SARS-CoV-2, taking into account COVID-19 strategic preparedness and response plans for 2023-2025. proposed to consider convening an IHR Review Committee to . At the same time, the Commission noted that Member States are currently negotiating pandemic prevention, preparedness and response agreements, discussing amendments to the IHR, and working to strengthen the global architecture for health emergency preparedness. Realized that we are considering 10 proposals for building a safer world together, responsiveness, resilience (HEPR).
They thanked the WHO Secretariat and Parties for their continued commitment and technical expertise, and stressed that now is not the time to stop work or dismantle the system. The Commission emphasized the importance of addressing perceived gaps during the pandemic. They will strengthen health systems, continue proactive risk communication and community engagement, implement a One Health approach to preparedness and response, and integrate COVID-19 monitoring and response activities into regular health programs. emphasized the need for integration. The Committee advocated that WHO, partners and States parties devote continued attention and resources to preparedness and resilience to emerging threats.
Interim Recommendations issued by the Director-General of WHO to all Parties
1. Sustain national capacity building and prepare for future events To avoid creating a panic-ignoring cycle. States parties should consider ways to improve national preparedness for future outbreaks. In line with WHO guidance, Parties should update their pandemic preparedness plans for respiratory pathogens. States parties should continue to restore health programs adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Integrate COVID-19 vaccination into life course vaccination programs. Parties should promote COVID-19 vaccination coverage using WHO-recommended vaccines for all people in high priority groups (as defined in the April 2023 SAGE Roadmap). efforts and continue to proactively address issues of vaccine acceptance and demand with communities.
3. Bring together information from diverse respiratory pathogen surveillance data sources to enable comprehensive situational awareness. Parties should continue to report mortality and morbidity data and variant surveillance information to WHO. Surveillance should include an appropriate combination of representative sentinel populations, event-based surveillance, human wastewater surveillance, serum surveillance, and surveillance of selected animal populations known to be at risk for SARS-COV-2. should incorporate information from Parties should utilize the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and support the establishment of the WHO Global Coronavirus Laboratory Network (CoViNet).
4. Preparing for Medical Measures Certification Within the national regulatory framework Long-term availability and supply. Parties should strengthen their regulatory authorities to support the long-term licensing and use of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments.
5. Work with communities and their leaders to achieve strong, resilient and inclusive Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) and infodemic management programs. Parties should adapt RCCE and infodemic management strategies and interventions to local conditions.
6. Continue to lift COVID-19 international travel-related health measuresbased on a risk assessment, not requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as a prerequisite for international travel.
7. Continue to support research Reduce transmission and improve vaccines with broader applicability. Understand the full spectrum, incidence and impact of post-COVID-19 conditions and the evolution of SARS-COV-2 in immunocompromised populations. Develop relevant integrated care pathways.