Pandemic Nears ‘Transition’ Point—But It’s Still A Global Health Emergency, WHO Warns



The Covid-19 pandemic will remain a global health emergency despite reaching a “transition point,” the World Health Organization said Monday, suggesting higher immunity levels will soon result in fewer virus-related deaths as the U.S. continues to average more than 500 per week.

Key Facts

Covid-19 remains a “dangerous infectious disease with the capacity to cause substantial damage to health and health systems,” the global health agency said Monday, adding “there is little doubt” the virus will remain despite mitigating factors.

Though “we’re in a far better situation now” compared to this time last year, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there are still concerns as more than 170,000 people globally have died from Covid over the previous eight weeks.

More than 13.1 billion Covid vaccines have been administered globally, according to WHO, including nearly 90% of all health workers and more than 60% of people over 60 years old receiving at least two doses.

The agency suggested “pandemic fatigue” has reduced public perception of risk, leading to fewer people following public health measures like wearing masks or social distancing.

Big Number

537. That’s the seven-day average of people dying from Covid-19 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is a decline of 4.9% over the previous week.

Key Background

Weekly trends for Covid-19 in the U.S. have continued to decline in recent weeks compared to last year, though the virus remains a public health issue. Over 2,300 new Covid cases were reported in the U.S. on January 15, 2022, following the spread of the new omicron variant, compared to over 140 on January 16, 2023. The weekly average of new Covid cases (42,163) has declined by 11.3% over the previous week, according to the CDC. The CDC estimates about 69.2% of the U.S.—over 229 million people—have received at least the first series of Covid vaccinations. Despite this, less than 20% (41.6 million) have received an updated booster dose. The health agency estimates more cases will result in the spread of XBB.1.5, a new highly contagious omicron variant that is projected to be present in more than 50% of all cases by the end of this month.


Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche announced last week it was developing a new Covid test designed to find XBB.1.5. The test uses PCR—a technique to amplify genetic material from samples like nasal swabs considered to be one of the most accurate and reliable forms of testing available—though it is only currently available for research.

Further Reading

A Covid Test Targeting The Fast-Spreading XBB.1.5 ‘Kraken’ Variant Is Being Developed By Scientists (Forbes)

mRNA Covid Shots Safe And Effective In Children Ages 5-11, Large Study Finds—Though Vaccine Uptake Remains Low (Forbes)

Forbes Business

Read More