The World Health Organization Declares a Global Pandemic for the First Time in 11 Years

Brooke Lehrman, Assistant Copy Editor

As of March 11, COVI-19 is officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, according to the U.S. News & World Report. The last time a pandemic was declared was in June 2009 for the H1N1 (swine) flu, and the “post-pandemic period” did not begin until August 2010.

According to Jennifer A. Horney, PhD, professor and founding director of the epidemiology program at College of Health Sciences at the University of Delaware, “It’s an action that allows for the expansion of administrative capacity of national and global public health agencies that can contribute to the response.” The WHO makes it clear that the declaration of a global pandemic is not meant to express the risk the disease has towards those infected, but it expresses the rapid spread of the disease. 

Many confuse the terms “epidemic” and “pandemic” due to their similarities; however, the differences are important to comprehend. An epidemic is typically used to describe any problem that has grown out of control, in this case being COV-19. An epidemic refers to a disease actively spreading. On the other hand, a pandemic is declared once a disease has geographically spread and affects an entire country or the world. The coronavirus being declared a global pandemic means that the virus has spread across the world, and it has affected a large percentage of the population. 

According to Very Well Health, experts determine whether a disease is considered an epidemic or a pandemic based on two measurable factors: the pattern and speed by which a disease moves and the size of the susceptible population.

As far as the public is concerned, the COV-19 is a global pandemic that rapidly spreads before symptoms are shown, therefore, it is extremely important that people exercise social distancing and any other directions given by government officials. Reducing the spread of the coronavirus is key in ending this global pandemic.