World Health Organization officials have said COVID is no longer a global health emergency, marking a symbolic end to the pandemic.
“It’s with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “That does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat.”
The pandemic had been on a downward trend for more than a year, he said, acknowledging that most countries have already returned to life before COVID-19.
He also highlighted the damage that COVID-19 had done to the global community, saying the virus had shattered businesses and plunged millions into poverty.
“COVID has changed our world and it has changed us,” he said, warning that the risk of new variants still remained.
In May last year, WHO experts said the end of the pandemic was “in sight”, publishing policy briefs for governments to follow on infection control, testing, vaccination and misinformation.
Last month the NHS COVID app was switched off and will be discontinued completely on 16 May.
The same month the Office for National Statistics said that COVID-19 was no longer a top leading cause of death in England and Wales.
COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020, triggering lockdowns and travel restrictions across the world.
There have been more than six million COVID-related deaths worldwide since then.
The virus has caused an estimated 764 million cases globally and about five billion people have received at least one dose of vaccine.