On March 13, 2020, as COVID-19 began claiming lives worldwide at a frightening pace, the U.S. government declared a public health emergency. That declaration is set to expire on May 11.

We asked RAND experts to reflect on the past three years: What were the effects on this country and around the world, what has changed, what are the most important takeaways, what was done right, and what was done wrong? At the same time, they looked ahead to what might be done to mitigate the health and geopolitical impacts of future pandemics.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus was first identified in China in late 2019; in January 2020 the World Health Organization declared a “public health emergency of international concern.” By the end of last month, more than 750 million cases and nearly 7 million deaths had been reported. The true number of cases and deaths probably far exceeds these official counts.

While acknowledging that the pandemic remains a significant public health priority, the Biden administration said in announcing the end of the emergency that “we have come to this point in our fight against the virus because of our historic investments and our efforts to mitigate its worst impacts.”

Over the past three years, RAND has produced dozens of reports and commentaries examining the pandemic's effect on public health, the economy, employment, education, national security, international affairs, and other areas.

The researchers in the Q&A below focused on many different aspects of the pandemic, and they were unanimous in their belief that while the official government-declared emergency may be over, the legacy of the disease will long endure.

Read the full article about the end of COVID-19 as a public health emergency at RAND Corporation.