Los Angeles: The US Covid-19 public health emergency (PHE) came to an end on Thursday, marking a major transition in the country’s fight against the global pandemic.
The PHE was announced by then US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in January 2020 to implement temporary measures and allocate resources to better contain the pandemic, Xinhua news agency reported.
Since taking office in 2021, US President Joe Biden has repeatedly extended the emergency.
The Biden administration’s decision to end the emergency comes as Covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations have declined dramatically due to the availability of vaccines, antiviral treatments and widespread exposure to the virus.
The pandemic claimed at least 6 million hospitalisations, and 1.1 million deaths in the United States, according to data of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The end of the PHE will bring significant changes in how the country responds to the virus. The CDC will scale back its efforts to track the virus. Most tools, like vaccines, treatments and testing, will remain available, but some tools, like certain data sources and reporting, will change.
The Biden administration also ended the Covid-19 vaccine requirements for federal employees, federal contractors, and international air travellers on Thursday.
While public health experts agree the country has many more tools to fight Covid-19 today, they warn the virus will remain a persistent threat to the nation’s battered healthcare system.