COVID-19 public health emergency ends May 11, 2023 in the US
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues at a high plateau with the millions being infected providing plenty of opportunity for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to evolve, the surges in hospitalization and deaths seen earlier in the pandemic have subsided allowing for the Public Health Emergency to be ended. However, COVID-19 continue to be a top 5 cause of death in the US and a cause of short & long term disability among millions due to Long COVID.
The End of the COVID-19 National & Public Health Emergency
The White House ended the National Emergency for COVID-19 on April 10th, 2023. As of May 11th, COVID-19 is no longer a Public Health Emergency either but rather a public health concern reflecting its new state of endemicity which though concerning is not a cause for alarm. CDC, HHS and other government agencies will be tailoring their resources as appropriate to the new status. This marks the end of the emergency after 3 years & 100 days.
What Does the End of the PHE Mean for You?
CDC, HHS and state public health infrastructure are changing investment in the pandemic infrastructure by both reducing the frequency and detail of reporting on healthcare utilization for COVID-19 while simultaneously expanding community-wide monitoring. This means the end of COVID case numbers and dashboards which became as common place as the weather forecast in the last few years. This also means the public will need to rely on other means to deal with a top 5 disease that was not on the radar just 3 years back.
Medical science now has solutions for COVID-19 though none of them have been very effective. However, the prevailing immunity acquired from infection or vaccination has made COVID-19 a manageable disease for today's population, if and when an infection happens.
Vaccines will continue to be available, likely as an annual shot similar to the flu vaccine, that is tailored to the prevailing variants. Research is actively progressing on better more durable vaccines
Therapeutics like Paxlovid will allow for reducing symptoms and suitable hospital protocols will be available for the severe cases.
Covid tests, whether PCR or antigen based, are likely to be not covered by insurance and add to the out-of-pocket costs of managing an infection.
Masks continue to be the most effective and inexpensive tool though it is highly unpopular for a variety of reasons.
And in the unlucky scenario of being hospitalized for COVID-19, robust protocols are ubiquitously available now for treatment.
This makes Long COVID which results from up to 1 in 5 of COVID-19 infections as one of the primary concerns of this continuing pandemic since Long COVID seems to affect a broader age group than severe COVID-19. At this time, treatment protocols are yet to be defined for Long COVID let alone understand the causes making it the greatest lingering manifestation of the pandemic.
Health security as offered by global, national and local governments focuses on the health of society at large by employing population scale tools. Over the past 3 years, various organizations played a crucial role in managing the pandemic.
Health Care on the other hand focuses on the individual and is personally funded. Over the past 3 years, the healthcare infrastructure faced tremendous stress from higher demand for services and lower supply of resources. As the PHE ends, healthcare has been forever transformed in numerous ways on how it serves society.