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“We’re In This for the Long Haul”: The End of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern Due to COVID-19

Last Friday, 5 May 2023, acting upon advice from an Emergency Committee, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared under Article 12 of the International Health Regulations (IHR) of 2005 that the spread of COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). The emergency had been active since 30 January 2020. While a duration of three years leads to wonder whether this stretches the understanding of “emergency”, it has actually not been the longest-lasting PHEIC since the IHR (2005)’s entry into force. Instead, the PHEIC due to the risk of re-emergence and spread of wild poliovirus is now entering its ninth year, having been first declared on 5 May 2014. No longer being a PHEIC does not mean COVID-19 is not a pressing problem anymore. The WHO Director-General has emphasized the need for implementing sustainable long-term public health strategies. Gaps in vaccination rates across multiple countries continue to pose a risk of severe infections. Considerable uncertainties remain related…

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Editorial Correction

This post was published in error, instead of a new post by Prof. Bartolini. The post on the pandemic was published on EJIL: Talk! already in 2020, and can be found here. Many apologies to Prof. Bartolini and our readers. The new post will be published shortly.

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Equitable Access Contracts: Building Blocks of a Future Global Vaccine Strategy

Introduction   Due to the major legal gaps revealed in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, in December 2021, WHO member states decided to establish an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) to negotiate a new agreement on pandemic preparedness and response. On 5-7 December 2022 the INB held its third meeting, at which a…

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What Does the Monkeypox Outbreak Tell Us about Global Health Governance? Critical Remarks on the New WHO Declaration of Public Health Emergency of International Concern

On 23 July 2022, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (“WHO”) declared that the outbreak of monkeypox constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (“PHEIC”). Under Art. 1 of the 2005 International Health Regulations (“IHRs”), a PHEIC means “an extraordinary event which is determined […] (i) to…

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The far-reaching US proposals to amend the International Health Regulations at the upcoming 75th World Health Assembly: A call for attention

The upcoming 75th World Health Assembly (WHA) to be held in Geneva from 22-28th May 2022 will potentially adopt far-reaching amendments to the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR). The IHR is currently the most important multilateral treaty regulating the global architecture for health emergency, preparedness, response and resilience (HEPR…

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