What the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency means

The COVID-19 public health emergency, which has given millions of Americans free access to vaccines, tests and treatments, comes to an end today. The statement, from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), comes just days after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that COVID-19 was no longer a global health emergency.

For more than a year, the pandemic has been on a downward trend, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, WHO director-general, said at a press conference.

Since January 2021, deaths from COVID-19 have decreased by 95% and hospitalizations have decreased by 90%, according to HHS.

Science COVID tests, vaccines and treatments—that’s what’s been able to turn the tide, says Sharon Nachman, MD, division chief of pediatric infectious diseases and professor of pediatrics at Stony Brook University’s Renaissance School of Medicine in Stony Brook , New York. It’s why COVID is no longer a cataclysmic infection killing people around the world. It is now a manageable, identifiable and treatable respiratory viral disease.

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