Covid-19 remains a threat even though it is no longer a global health emergency, the EU's vaccines watchdog warned today in its final briefing of the pandemic.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it was stopping its regular briefings, which for nearly three years were keenly watched for the latest developments on vaccines and treatments.

But the Amsterdam-based regulator said it would keep up its work on vaccines for new variants of the disease, which has killed millions of people and wreaked economic havoc.

"This virus is and will remain a threat, especially for the most vulnerable," EMA vaccines chief Marco Cavaleri said.

He said the virus was "still circulating and new variants are emerging".

Public health authorities would "have to keep their guard up", especially during winter, Dr Cavaleri added.

But he insisted that Covid vaccines kept people out of hospital and "saved lives at the end of the day".

EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke hailed her agency's work in "enabling the largest vaccination programme in Europe's history".

"It has been estimated that in the first year of the pandemic alone Covid vaccines helped save almost 20 million lives," she said.

The World Health Organization declared on 5 May that the Covid pandemic no longer constituted a global health emergency.

The WHO's emergency committee first declared that Covid represented its highest level of alert more than three years ago, on 30 January 2020.

The WHO said the death rate had slowed from a peak of more than 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 in the week to 24 April 2023, according to WHO data.