According to a commission convened by the World Health Organization, the world was “woefully” unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic and remains vulnerable to the next major “catastrophic” health crisis.
“COVID-19 is the Chernobyl of the twenty-first century,” experts from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response stated in a paper titled “COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic,” which was issued on Wednesday.
The panel, which includes former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and UNDP Chief Ban Ki-moon, as well as former Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, called for immediate action to avert the next pandemic, warning that failing to do so would “condemn the world to successive catastrophes.”
“It has triggered a global health crisis of such magnitude and scope that presidents, prime ministers, and heads of international and regional organisations must now recognise their responsibility to reform how the world prepares for and responds to global health risks,” the panel stated. “When, if not now, when?”
The panel’s thorough inquiry uncovered “failures and gaps” in governments’ international and domestic actions, which ultimately failed to protect the public.
“Current governmental and corporate institutions have failed to protect people from a terrible pandemic. They will not be able to avoid another one until they change “According to the group.
Experts commented that the continually high and broad levels of COVID-19 transmission over the world are “deeply concerning” and “alarming,” especially given the potential appearance of additional variants that could “impose an unacceptable burden on communities.”
The panel wrote, “People are grieving the loss of loved ones, and those with long-term health effects from the disease continue to suffer.” “This isn’t how it has to be.”
The panel advocated for immediate investment in pandemic preparedness measures, improved surveillance systems, and widespread plans to manufacture vaccinations, diagnostics, treatments, and supplies, as well as access to pandemic-related financial assistance.
With nearly 5.7 billion individuals over the age of 16, the panel emphasised the importance of supporting global vaccine availability and equity, stating that “this is not some ambition for tomorrow—it is imperative, today.”
“Preparing to avert future epidemic goes hand in hand with ending this one as rapidly as feasible,” they wrote.
“In what has been labelled a cycle of panic and neglect, complacency takes hold as soon as a health threat or catastrophic outbreak fades from memory. This cycle must be broken.”