The White House plans to disband its COVID-19 response team in May when the public health emergency related to the pandemic officially comes to end, according to multiple reports.
“As a result of this Administration’s historic response to COVID-19, we as a nation are in a safer, better place than we were three years ago. COVID no longer disrupts our lives because of investments and our efforts to mitigate its worst impacts,” a senior administration official said in a statement, according to CNN.
The official maintained that COVID-19 remains a Biden administration priority despite the planned May 11 end of the two emergency declarations related to the virus, nearly three years after they were first declared.
“COVID is not over, fighting it remains an Administration priority, and transitioning out of the emergency phase is the natural evolution of the COVID response,” the official said.
The emergency response team, currently led by Dr. Ashish Jha, was established on the first day of the Biden administration via executive order. At one point, as many as three dozen staffers worked on the response team, but the Washington Post reports that in recent months the amount of staffers working an emergency COVID-19 response began to dwindle.
The team was responsible for coordinating rollout and distribution of vaccines, treatments and medical supplies.
The head of the World Health Organization revealed last week that he is “confident” the COVID-19 pandemic will officially end in 2023.
“We are certainly in a much better position now than we have been at any time during the pandemic,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland.