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VERIFY: Who is in charge of declaring the pandemic over?

The World Health Organization decides when a Public Health Emergency of International Concern is no longer present. A committee meets every three months.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden made a comment during a 60 minutes interview that's turning some heads.

“The pandemic is over," he said. "We still have a problem with COVID. We're still doing a lot of work on it. It's- but the pandemic is over.”

Just a few days earlier World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesussaid said, “we have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We're not there yet. But the end is in sight.”

A lot of people are sharing their opinion about whether or not the pandemic is in fact over. But who is in charge of determining that?

We asked Dr. William Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Ali Mokdad, chief strategy officer for population health at the University of Washington; and the World Health Organization.

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First, a bit on the terminology.

According to WHO, they’re in charge of determining whether there’s a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern." That’s the agency’s highest level of alarm. A committee is required to meet every three months to review recommendations and determine whether they should still be in effect.

At this point, WHO says a PHEIC is still in place. 

"The Director-General declared COVID-19 a PHEIC on 30 January 2020; the global risk assessment was raised to very high on 28 February 2020; on 11 March 2020, with high levels of spread and a clearer picture of the severity of the new virus, WHO DG characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic," a World Health Organization spokesperson said in a statement. "Since then, the Emergency Committee for COVID-19 has met every three months as required under the IHR to review the situation; it will next meet in October 2022."

Both Dr. Moss and Dr. Mokdad agree that the World Health Organization makes the call to officially end the pandemic.

"At the global level it’s WHO— the World Health Organization is the agency that will declare an emergency, then will declare it's a pandemic, and will coordinate across all countries that it is over or not," Dr. Mokdad said. "We haven't heard from WHO saying it's over."

It's important to remember while the President did say during that 60 Minutes interview "the pandemic is over," he also said, "we still have a problem with COVID."

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