May 12, 2021 - Health

COVID-19 pandemic was "preventable disaster," WHO-commissioned report says

 Dr. Faiz Ansari gives Emani Vaughn a COVID-19 test at the Clínica de La Raza testing site along East 12th Street and Derby Avenue in Oakland, Calif.,

A health worker gives a COVID-19 test to a woman in Oakland, California. Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

The COVID-19 pandemic was a "preventable disaster" that exposed weak links "at every point" of the preparedness process, according to a World Health Organization-commissioned report published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response criticized governments worldwide for being unprepared for the pandemic despite the prevalence of past "global health threats," such as Ebola, Zika, and SARS outbreaks.

The big picture: The report states that the world's response to the emergence of COVID-19 was "too slow" and "too meek," and that the WHO was "underpowered."

  • "Global political leadership was absent," it adds.
  • The report also says that February 2020 was a "lost month" when governments should have taken action to prevent the epidemic from developing into a pandemic.
  • "COVID-19 is the 21st century’s Chernobyl moment—not because a disease outbreak is like a nuclear accident, but because it has shown so clearly the gravity of the threat to our health and well-being."

To end the ongoing pandemic, the panel recommends that...

  • Richer countries provide "at least 1 billion" vaccine doses to poor and middle-income nations;
  • The World Trade Organization and WHO get vaccine-producing countries "to agree to voluntary licensing and technology transfer for COVID-19 vaccines";
  • Nations scale up the access of COVID-19 tests and therapeutics.
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