Experts: COVID-19 pandemic no longer a 'global health emergency' according to WHO

Published: 12 May 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) has ended the global COVID-19 emergency, citing increased immunity, fewer deaths and less pressure on hospitals. The pandemic, which was first declared an international crisis on January 30, 2020, resulted in unprecedented lockdowns, economic upheaval and the deaths of at least seven million people worldwide and more than 52,000 people in Canada. (CBC News)

Here are some experts from McGill University who can provide comment on this issue:

Michael Libman, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

The fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer classified as an ‘emergency’ does not at all mean that it does not remain an important problem. Although it is often compared to influenza, the current data suggest that it remains overall worse than influenza in terms of short- and long-term complications, and death. As is the case with influenza, new variants continue to emerge. Sooner or later, one of these variants will cause us more problems.

Michael Libman is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Director of the J.D. MacLean Centre for Tropical Diseases at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). His research is on tropical and travel-related illness, with a particular focus on the epidemiology of imported infections.

michael.libman [at] (English, French)

Matthew Oughton, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

"The WHO’s declaration that COVID-19 no longer constitutes a global health emergency does not mean that COVID-19 is over. It is clearly still with us and is becoming an endemic respiratory infection with seasonal variability. Instead, the declaration should be seen as a signal for governments to end their own emergency declarations and manage this as an ongoing and established infectious disease."

Matthew Oughton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and a specialist in infectious diseases and medical microbiology. He is based at the Jewish General Hospital, where he supervises the bacteriology and molecular microbiology laboratories. His research interests are focused on the use of molecular techniques to improve clinical diagnostic assays, with relevant publications on C. difficile, MRSA, influenza, and other pathogens.

matthew.oughton [at] (English)

Back to top