Tuesday, 25 June, 2024
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WHO likely to downgrade Covid-19 to flu status

Consideration by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to downgrade Covid-19 from a public health emergency of international concern, its highest level of alert, to a similar level of risk as flu, might be premature, say international scientists.

A WHO committee has been reviewing the criteria that would mean the threat from Covid-19 could be downgraded, but hasn’t yet reached a decision.

“We’re coming to that point where we can look at Covid-19 in the same way we look at seasonal influenza,” said the WHO’s Michael Ryan. “A threat to health, a virus that will continue to kill – but a virus that is not disrupting our society or disrupting our hospital systems.”

While the coronavirus is still widely circulating, it is now less likely to cause serious illness, as most people have had it at least once, many have been vaccinated multiple times, and the current variants are less virulent than some past variants, reports the New Scientist.

However, Stephen Griffin at the University of Leeds, UK, who is a member of iSAGE, an independent group of scientists, is sceptical of WHO’s plans. “Most worrying is the continued isolation and discrimination against the millions of clinically vulnerable people, especially those unable to make effective vaccine responses,” he says, adding that the decision might be premature.


New Scientist article – Covid-19 threat expected to become on par with flu this year, says WHO (Open access)


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