More than three years ago, on January 30, 2020, the WHO's emergency committee had declared that COVID represented its highest level of alert. After claiming more than 6.9 million lives, ravaging communities and disrupting global economy, the COVID situation has changed for the better. Finally, WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has finally declared an end to the COVID global public health emergency.

"For more than a year, the pandemic has been on a downward trend with population immunity increasing from vaccination and infection, mortality decreasing, and the pressure on health systems easing," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference in Geneva.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO Chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

"This trend has allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before Covid-19," Tedros said, adding that "It's therefore with great hope that I declared Covid-19 over as a global health emergency."

COVID-19 fourth leading cause of death in the US

Covid-19 was the fourth leading cause of death among Americans in 2022, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 3.2 million persons died in the US during January to December 2022. Heart disease (699,659) remained the top reason for death, followed by cancer (607,790), unintentional injuries (218,064) -- which includes drug overdoses and car accidents -- and Covid (186,702).

New Delhi: Health workers in PPE kits seen collecting swab samples for the COVID-19 testing amid a spike in Coronavirus cases, at RML Hospital in New Delhi on Monday, April 10, 2023. (Photo: Anupam Gautam/IANS)IANS

Covid-19 was the underlying cause for 5.7 per cent of all deaths in 2022, decreasing from 12 per cent (416,893 deaths) in 2021. Overall, Covid-associated death rate among males (76.3) was higher compared with that among females (49.8).

It also decreased from 2021 to 2022 among groups more than 15 years of age, while the rate increased for all age groups under 15 years. However, the CDC has not given the reason behind this.

(This is a developing story)