The World Health Organisation (WHO) was able to
announce two pieces of good news in May: The global health emergencies for the
COVID-19 virus as well as Mpox (formerly monkeypox) have been lifted. The
infection figures for both viruses have continued to decline to the point where
the independent expert council recommended that the emergencies should be
lifted and this was followed up. However, this is not yet general all-clears.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued an
urgent warning after the announcement: "The worst thing a country could do
now is to use this news as a reason to reduce its vigilance, dismantle the
systems it has created or to send a message to its citizens that COVID-19 is no
longer a cause for concern".
Because the infection figures for COVID-19 are
still high. By 7 May 2023, over 765 million confirmed cases and over 6.9
million deaths have been reported worldwide. In Europe, there were around 276
million cases with over 2.2 million deaths (see WHO dashboard). Vaccinations and other protective measures
have resulted in a sustained decline in infection rates.
And in the EU?
On 2 May, the EU’s Swedish Presidency also
lifted full monitoring in its crisis reaction mechanism (IPCR) for COVID-19. The crisis responses across the
sectors have been coordinated between the member states since the start of the
COVID-19 pandemic. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen assured that
the EU will continue to work to enable improved surveillance, vaccinations and
prevention of COVID-19 as well as it being better prepared for future health
Lessons have been and will continue to be
learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. The establishment of the Health Emergency
Preparedness and Response Agency (HERA), as well as the strengthened mandates
of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease
Prevention and Control (ECDC) are three key measures. One should also look at
the European Parloament. The COVI special committee plans to adopt its
"Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and recommendations for the
future" report on 12 June (see News
Significant impulses can be expected from the Members in the European
Not only at EU level, but also globally as
cooperation will be intensified in the future. Currently underway are negotiations
about an international pandemic agreement and the 2005 amendments to the International
Health Regulations. The agreement aims to ensure equal access to the tools
needed for preventing a pandemic as well as access to health care for everyone.
Formal negotiations started in February 2023 and are expected to be completed
It is becoming clear that work is being done
not only nationally, but also at the European and global levels to ensure that
a health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic does not happen again. Everyone has
a responsibility regarding this.