Posted: Tuesday, May 18, 2021. 2:26 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: An independent review panel faults both the World Health Organization (WHO) and global governments for their combined response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which it deemed preventable, the BBC reports.
Covid-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, was compiled by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. Its aim was to find answers as to how the virus had killed more than 3.3 million people and infected more than 159 million.
A global emergency should have been declared at least a week earlier, it said. It added that without urgent change the world was vulnerable to another major disease outbreak.
While the U.S. and Europe are beginning to ease restrictions and resume some aspects of pre-pandemic life, the virus is still devastating parts of Asia.
India in particular is seeing record-breaking numbers of new cases and deaths, with severe oxygen shortages in hospitals across the country.
“The situation we find ourselves in today could have been prevented,” co-chair Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a former president of Liberia, told reporters. “It is due to a myriad of failures, gaps and delays in preparedness and response.”
The month following the WHO’s declaration was “lost” as countries failed to take appropriate measures to halt the spread of the virus.
The WHO was then hindered by its own regulations that travel restrictions should be a last resort, the panel said, adding that Europe and the US wasted the entire month of February and acted only when their hospitals began to fill up.
When countries should have been preparing their healthcare systems for an influx of Covid patients, much of the world descended into a “winner takes all” scramble for protective equipment and medicines, the report said.
To prevent another catastrophic pandemic, the report suggests key reforms:
A new global threats council should be created with the power to hold countries accountable
There should be a disease surveillance system to publish information without the approval of countries concerned
Vaccines must be classed as public goods and there should be a pandemic financing facility
There was an immediate request for the wealthy G7 nations to commit $1.9bn (£1.3bn) to the WHO’s Covax programme providing vaccine support to low-income countries.
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