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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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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.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Aug 20, 2021 - Health

America's patchwork back-to-school plan

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Conflicting policies, fiery political debates and the continued spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 are sowing chaos and uncertainty into the back-to-school season.

Why it matters: This will be the third school year in a row with COVID-related disruptions. Many students have already suffered severe learning loss, and the gap between students could grow even wider, thanks to disparities in vaccinations and rising case counts.

Aug 20, 2021 - Health

FDA expected to grant full approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine next week

Vial of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine early next week, sources told Axios on Friday.

Why it matters: It would be the first COVID-19 shot to receive full authorization from the federal government.

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