Quick Take: Is the COVID Pandemic Really Over?

DGHI’s Chris Woods says the end of the public health emergency is both a cause for celebration and a caution to stay careful.

By Alicia Banks

Published May 18, 2023 under Commentary

In May, the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency, signaling that the global threat from the disease has passed. The U.S. government followed by ending its three-year-long federal COVID public health emergency on May 11.

These actions mark an important milestone in the life of the pandemic, and one well worth celebrating, says Chris Woods, M.D, executive director of the Hubert-Yeargan Center for Global Health. But they don’t mean the end of COVID-19.

“COVID itself is not gone,” says Woods, the Wolfgang Joklik Distinguished Professor of Global Health and an expert on infectious diseases. “We still have transmissions, and we can fully expect there to be intermittent increases in cases.”

In this Quick Take video, Woods says the change in COVID’s status represents a “triumph” in the global collaborative work of researchers, health workers and governments to protect the public. But he notes that people may need to take similar steps to manage more localized outbreaks of COVID, as well as other infectious diseases.