Three years after the state of alert: the government is waiting for the WHO to end the emergency to completely close the pandemic

Three years after the state of alert: the government is waiting for the WHO to end the emergency to completely close the pandemic

Almost nothing resembles what happened three years ago. On March 14, 2020, the President of the Government, Pedro Sanchezappeared in Moncloa to confirm what had been seen coming for days, that the increase in Covid-19 virus infections was forcing citizens to stay confined to their homeswhich would be mandatory under the declaration of a alarm state the Council of Ministers had just been approved the same day. It was the beginning of dramatic months around the world, which in Spain left almost 120,000 dead and nearly 14 million people infected declared, and which were followed by more than restrictions movement and encounter that already seem to belong to the past. Three years later, the masks to enter hospitals or pharmacies are the only obstacle of a increasingly forgotten pandemic but the one who still has to put the end of closing.

In Spain, it should be the government that determines it and, for this, the executive awaits the World Health Organization (WHO) says global coronavirus public health emergency is over for now he resists doing it and their “official” reasons have to do with the situation in developing countries. In the blur, the experts point to the unknown of what is happening in China, precisely the place where it all began.

At street level, the pandemic is gone. They already seem very far away eight weeks that the Spaniards had to stay at home, the walks that it was possible to take from this May 2, 2020, the limits of the distance that could be traveled, in the time to return home or from number of persons They could meet in enclosed spaces. After the first and third deadly wave from the beginning and end of 2020, from the seventh, to the summer of 2021 and propelled by parties and field trips six months after the start of vaccination, and the unruly wave that caused the omicron variant to Christmas 2021, the pandemic began to subside, as infections, hospitalizations and deaths declined. At the same time, measures and restrictions have gradually increased. The last and most visible, the end of the obligation to wear a mask in public transport. It continues to be so only to enter hospitals, nursing homes and establishments such as pharmacies, which epidemiologists do not rule out that it will remain so forever.


“In the covid We’ve been through enough, but it’s over. We will have other things, but that’s over,” insists one of Spain’s leading epidemiology experts and former WHO adviser, Dr. Vincent Soriano, who points out that especially in industrialized countries “many people have been infected and the rest are vaccinated”, while the Covid should no longer be considered a “danger to public health”“. Although new variants have emerged from greater circulation of the virus, does not believe that there is “a risk that everything will start again”. “The conclusion is that the epidemic is over,” says Soriano, who between 1997 and 2014 worked successively as a consultant or head of research in the infectious disease departments of La Paz and Carlos III hospitals, both in Madrid.

Always of epidemiology, there are less optimistic opinions, such as that of the former head of the epidemiology service of the Barcelona Public Health Agency Joan Cayla, which warns that the latest data from the Ministry of Health are still far from a normal situation. “Among those over 60, there are almost 8,000 cases, 1,800 hospitalized, 84 in intensive care and still 10 deaths a day,” he says, listing a chain now all but forgotten on the streets. “It’s true that they are better than in the first, second and third year, but in the fourth year of the pandemic, these are worrying figures”Says Cayla. “Imagine in Spain 10 deaths a day from AIDS, tuberculosis or legionella, it would be incredible.”

“The Covid, whether we like it or not, will continue to be a pandemic, like AIDS or tuberculosis, and this for a time because it affects all the countries of the world”, declares Caylà, who estimates that for this reason it cannot be called endemic disease as if it were just a few. ” what yes It can change the criteria, stop being an international public health alarm.”something that feels “it could happen one of these days”.

Scheduled closure

This, the end of the alarm and the emergency due to the coronavirus, is precisely what is happening now it just keeps coming, neither in Spain nor worldwide. While other very serious things continue to happen that keep the Covid further and further away, such as the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and the general rise in prices, The WHO still does not see the moment to officially end the global public health emergency he launched in January 2020 and The Spanish government awaits this decision take your own, despite the fact that since June 2020 there is a path designed for it. In both cases, there is official reasons and others less and also practical consequences despite the fact that the public no longer sees the difference between saying the pandemic is over or not, as there is almost no trace of it left on the streets.

20minutos travels through different means of transport to check the use of masks on the first day without obligation.

In June 2020, the government set out the process it would follow to decree the official end of the health crisis by the coronavirus, in the royal decree-law of “new normal” which sets the guidelines and measures that would be maintained once the de-escalation is completed, in the spring of 2020.

It said that once the extension of the state of alert is over, the measures envisaged in this royal decree – such as the use of masks, infection control and contact tracing, checks on passengers at on board ships or aircraft or the reorganization of health care – would apply to the whole country “until the Government declares in a reasoned manner and according to the available scientific evidence (…) the situation at the end of the health crisis”. To make this decision, a prior report from the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES) which continues to guide Ferdinand Simon and would be consulted at communities autonomous.

Despite the fact that the use of the mask only remains in place in very specific contexts, for the moment there is no indication when this decision will be made, and the Ministry of Health indicates what will happen when the WHO decrees the end of the emergency. It will be a question of formalizing what is already happening in the streets and seen by the experts, the conversion of what was a serious health crisis into one more respiratory disease, which, according to the WHO, will continue among us, endemic way, for much longer than they will see our eyes.

There are public health experts who consider that “it would not make sense” to end a health crisis caused by a respiratory disease because it is something that is only done for those caused by poor water conditions, such as typhoid fever, salmonella, or foodborne infections, or vector-borne infections, such as malaria or malaria. But the truth is that in 2020 the government put into law how the end of the Covid pandemic would be decreed. And for the moment this has not been done because the Executive is waiting for the WHO to declare the end of the global health emergency due to covid who stopped on January 30, 2020.

In concrete terms, maintaining the emergency situation yes it has consequences. Minorities, but there are some, because it allows an exception which already does not affect daily life of the majority of citizens and their movements, but yes to questions such as contracts and research projects which remain paralyzed and unpublished, or European aid who do not arrive for investigation due to the “exceptional situation” that persists. “There are some countries that say they are waiting for the WHO for a political question“says Soriano, who counts Spain among them. “We have not returned to normality on the regulatory issue”, affirms this epidemiologist who denounces “interventionism”.

The Chinese blackout

As for the WHO, the decision on whether Covid ceases to be a public health emergency will be taken on the recommendation of its emergency committee under the International Health Regulations, who met in Two occasions in recent months without agreeing to it for the moment, for reasons under which the community of epidemiologists considers the situation in China.

Last October, the appearance of several subvariants of omicron For the first time, they led to postpone the decision until we know how they would evolve. In January of this year, he tried again without making a decision. In his January 30 report, the Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom, announced that he had decided not to lift the state of emergency yet. Although the pandemic has been “probably at a tipping point”, it recommended “navigating this transition with caution and mitigating potential negative consequences”.

On paper, what the WHO took into account in January to once again postpone the end of the health emergency was the fact that developing countries have few vaccinated populations and weak surveillance systems and sequencing to detect possible new variants.

However, underlying these reasons is what epidemiologists like Soriano believe to be the real reason, the situation in China or rather the total lack of information on what is happening in the second most populous country in the world, which until December did not lift – suddenly and to silence the protests – its policy of covid zero which prevented its population from being infected and immunized like the rest of the world, in addition to being barely vaccinated with an ineffective serum. All this has led the Chinese people to find themselves in a situation very similar to that of the whole world in 2020, although in reality the situation is not known.

“It is very striking that from within (China) there is no news, neither good nor bad. There is no information”, says Soriano of the Asian giant, where the end of restrictions was followed by a very significant increase in infections and deaths, which was reported in major cities. Yet for weeks no one knows what is happening at home, let alone in the rural areas of the country which, after the withdrawal of American funding during the mandate of Donald Trump, it’s him top contributor to WHO. “It makes us very suspicious,” he says of what he says is the main reason the international organization is not ending the global public health emergency.

From your point of view, you could do it, because the rest of the world is immune, either by contagion or by vaccines which, even if they are not adapted to the variants which may continue to appear, will continue to be effective, and ready to completely forget the health emergency.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.For tips or news submission: