But in light of the current International Health Regulations that govern preparedness and response to health emergencies, there are no low and medium levels of warning under a full health emergency, whether at the global or regional level.
The World Health Organization has faced accusations, especially from Washington, of misbehaving about the pandemic, and that it waited too long to sound the alarm.
The WHO experts met on January 22 and 23, but at that point they did not conclude that the epidemic deserves the highest alert state for a complete public health emergency.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in a press conference, Thursday, that the Covid-19 pandemic was a “critical test” for countries as well as for the International Health Regulations.
Tedros said the WHO will now set up a panel of independent experts to review the global regulations to see if any changes should be made.
He added that even before the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo revealed flaws in the International Health Regulations.
Tedros said that such emergencies showed that “some elements of the International Health Regulations may need to be reviewed – including the bilateral nature of the (alert) mechanism,” according to “AFP.”
Several countries called for a more accurate system, for example with 3 levels of alert, instead of two levels, or alerts at the regional level.
Tedros hopes that the committee will present a progress report to the World Health Assembly, the WHO’s decision-making body made up of member states, in November, and a full report to the assembly in May.
He said, “The World Health Organization is committed to eradicating the pandemic, working with all countries to learn from it, and to ensuring that together we build the healthiest, safest and fairest world that we want.”
The committee is separate from the Independent Committee for Epidemic Preparedness and Response, and was created to assess the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Independent Committee for Epidemic Preparedness and Response is chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.