WHO: Zika no longer an international public health emergency

The Washington Post (11/18, Sun) reported that the World Health Organization declared that the Zika virus is no longer an international public health emergency. However, experts with the WHO clarified that this designation does not indicate that addressing Zika is less important, but that it requires a sustained and dedicated program within WHO, not resources for a short-term emergency.

The New York Times (11/18, McNeil, Subscription Publication) reported that National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, MD, said the announcement was premature. “Are we going to see a resurgence in Brazil, Colombia and elsewhere?” he asked. “If they pull back on the emergency, they’d better be able to reinstate it. Why not wait a couple of months to see what happens?” Dr. Fauci also clarified that efforts within his agency to develop a Zika vaccine would be unaffected by the announcement.

CNN (11/18, Goldschmidt) reported that Dr. Fauci called the announcement a “reasonable decision” but the WHO “should be prepared to re-examine the decision if, in fact, we have a resurgence of Zika in South America as we enter into the summer months of January and February in the Southern Hemisphere.”

The Wall Street Journal (11/18, McKay, Subscription Publication) reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the Zika outbreak would remain at the CDC’s highest emergency level.