The world could have avoided the catastrophe of COVID-19: panel of experts | Coronavirus pandemic news


An independent group has concluded that the catastrophic scale of the coronavirus pandemic could have been avoided, but a “toxic cocktail” of rupture and poor coordination made the warning signs unattended.

In its long-awaited final report on Wednesday, the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) said a number of bad decisions meant COVID-19 had killed at least 3.3 million people so far and it ravaged the world economy.

Institutions “could not protect people” and science-denying leaders eroded public confidence in health interventions, the IPPPR said. The first responses to the outbreak detected in Wuhan (China) in December 2019 “had no urgency,” with February 2020 a costly “lost month,” as countries ignored the alarm, the group said.

He called on richer countries to give a billion doses of vaccine to the poorest to deal with the current pandemic and also urged the richest countries in the world to fund new organizations dedicated to preparing for the next pandemic.

Member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) requested the IPPPR report in May last year. The committee was co-chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

The report, “COVID-19: Making It the Last Pandemic,” argued that the global alarm system needed a overhaul to avert a similar catastrophe.

“The situation we are in today could have been avoided,” Sirleaf told reporters. “It is due to a myriad of failures, gaps and delays in preparation and response.”

The report said the onset of COVID-19 was characterized by a mixture “of some quick and early action, but also by delay, hesitation and denial.”

“Bad strategic decisions, unwillingness to address inequalities and an uncoordinated system created a toxic cocktail that allowed the pandemic to turn into a catastrophic human crisis.”

The threat of a pandemic had been overlooked and countries were sadly unprepared to deal with one, the report found.

The group did not spare the WHO, saying it could have declared the situation as an international public health emergency (PHEIC) (its highest alarm level) on 22 January 2020. Instead of that, he waited eight more days before doing so.

However, given the relative inaction of countries, “we could still have ended up in the same place,” Clark said.

It was only in March after the WHO described it as a pandemic (a term that is not officially part of its alert system) that countries began to act.

As for the initial outbreak, “there were clearly delays in China, but there were delays everywhere,” he added.

Without the lag between the first identification in Wuhan and the PHEIC statement – and then the “lost month” of February 2020, we believe we would not be facing an accelerated pandemic, as we have done for the past 15 or 16 months or tan. As simple as that, ”Clark said.

The group made several recommendations on how to deal with the current pandemic.

Rich and well-vaccinated countries should provide the 92 poorest territories of the COVAX scheme with at least one billion vaccine doses by Sept. 1 and more than two billion by mid-2022, he said.

The industrialized nations of the G7 should pay 60 percent of the $ 19 billion needed to fund vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics through the WHO’s COVID Tools Accelerator Access Program in 2021, he added. G20 countries and other countries should provide the rest.

The WHO and the World Trade Organization should also get vaccine-producing countries and key manufacturers to accept voluntary licenses and technology transfers for COVID-19 vaccines, the group said.

“If no action is taken within three months, a waiver of … intellectual property rights should take effect immediately.”

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