May 13, 2021
By: Jhanae Winter
The Panel of experts “found weak links at every point in the chain of preparedness and response” criticizing the WHO and world leaders in a report, published wednesday.
The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response said, “The World Health Organization was under-powered” and “global political leadership was absent.”
Preparation was inconsistent and underfunded and the alert system was too slow and too meek, the report said.
This was seen as countries like Wuhan responded quickly to abnormally high cases of pneumonia in late December 2019. But the reactions from the International Health Regulations were too slow to generate the quick response needed to counteract a rapidly growing respiratory pathogen, according to the panel.
Other nations adopted a “wait and see” approach instead of engaging in strategic containment plans that could have slowed down the pandemic. Because of this precious time was lost, the report said.
February 2020 was labelled a “lost month” because governments did not use the opportunity to get ahead of the epidemic and prevent it from spreading into a pandemic, the panel said.
The WHO should have declared a global emergency much sooner than it did and lacks the power to investigate and act swiftly when confronted with potential outbreaks, the independent experts said.
One of the findings from the report said, “years of warnings of an inevitable pandemic threat were not acted on despite the increasing rate at which zoonotic diseases are emerging.”
The unpreparedness from countries exposed and widened the social inequalities with a “disproportionate socio- economic impact on women and vulnerable and marginalized populations, including migrants and workers in the informal sector,” the report says.
There needs to be new and strategic approaches to preparing and responding to pandemics on an international scale to prevent future pandemics, the panel said.
The experts called for certain measures to be put in place to end the Covid-19 pandemic.
Richer countries should provide 1 billion vaccines to low income countries by September 2021 and over 2 billion by mid-2022, according to experts.
“The World Trade Organization and the WHO should get “manufacturers to agree to voluntary licensing and technology transfer for COVID-19 vaccines”. Likewise the WHO needs “to immediately develop a roadmap” with clear objectives that outline countries and global attempts to end the pandemic, the report said.
The panel recommends all countries to “apply non-pharmaceutical public health measures systematically and rigorously to curb Covid-19 transmissions."
The world must learn from this pandemic and plan ahead.
“COVID-19 has been a terrible wake-up call. So now the world needs to wake up, and commit to clear targets, additional resources, new measures and strong leadership to prepare for the future”, the experts said.