Action to suppress Coronavirus 2019-nCoV is a global healthcare priority
Action to suppress Coronavirus 2019-nCoV is a global healthcare priority
… Coronavirus 2019-nCoV: A Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Coronavirus 2019-nCoV: A Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

WHO has issued PHEIC status only 5 times before

John G. Baresky

The World Health Organization has declared the Coronavirus 2019-nCoV a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The declaration of PHEIC is rare. Upon its designation, various government agencies, healthcare institutions and other stakeholders are officially organized to act and escalate measures in collaboration with each other to combat the issue. The decision was made at a point as 171 persons in China have succumbed to the illness and the disease has spread to at least 18 other nations.

PHEIC events of the past: Ebola, H1N1 Swine Flu, Polio

  • Ebola virus, 2019
  • Zika virus, 2016
  • Polio outbreak, 2014
  • Ebola outbreak, 2014
  • Swine flu, 2009

Definition and guidelines about PHEIC designation

The term Public Health Emergency of International Concern is defined in the IHR (2005) as “an extraordinary event which is determined, as provided in these Regulations…:

  • “to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease”
  • “to potentially require a coordinated international response”

This definition implies a situation that: is serious, unusual or unexpected; it carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s national border and may require immediate international action.

The 2019-nCoV challenge may still be in its early stages

Why didn’t WHO declare Coronavirus N-CoV19 a PHEIC sooner?

Not to minimize events to be even considered for PHEIC status, the level of alertness and action warranted by PHEIC status is of extraordinarily high level

How does the World Health Organization decide on PHEIC designation?

  • What is the scale of the threat risk to public health?
  • How unusual or unexpected are the circumstances?
  • What level of success thus far has been achieved in dealing with the threat and in what direction is its momentum moving?
  • How significant is the risk for international exposure as a disease or other threat manifests itself?
  • What is the level of risk that would require international travel and trade restrictions?

Why isn’t there a vaccine for Coronavirus 2019-nCoV?

It took researchers about 20 months to develop a vaccine for SARS. While several companies are now involved with creating a vaccine for Coronavirus 2019-nCoV, none are close to being fully developed for approval and manufactured in mass quantities.

What U.S. government agencies are taking the lead in aligning policies and procedures within the nation’s borders based on the PHEIC designation by WHO?

  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) unit
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unit
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Moving forward, 2019-nCoV has earned global healthcare top priority

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