BENGALURU: Covid-19 remains a global disaster. “Worse, it was a preventable disaster,” an independent global panel stated in its just-released report while slamming the World Health Organisation (WHO) for failing to issue a timely declaration that the pandemic was a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) -- its highest level of alarm -- on January 22, 2020.
“Instead, it took eight more days before doing so. The world needs a new international system for pandemic preparedness and response,” stated the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) in its report ‘Covid-19: Make it the Last Pandemic’ which was released on Wednesday.
The pandemic has caused the “deepest shock to the global economy since World War II”, it stated. “Our message is simple and clear: the current system failed to protect us from the Covid-19 pandemic. And if we do not act to change it now, it will not protect us from the next pandemic threat, which could happen at any time,” stated the Panel co-chair and former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The IPPPR has asked the world community to establish a new global system for surveillance with full transparency. “This system would provide the WHO with the authority to publish information about outbreaks with pandemic potential on an immediate basis,” the report stated. The panel has also cautioned the countries to “invest in national preparedness now as it will be too late when the next crisis hits”, it said.
The IPPPR, while calling for immediate global efforts to end the pandemic, has asked for immediate implementation of a series of “bold recommendations to redistribute, fund and increase the availability of and manufacturing capacity for vaccines, and to apply proven public health measures urgently and consistently in every country” to prevent a future pandemic. “The tools are available to put an end to the severe illnesses, deaths and socio-economic damage caused by Covid-19. Leaders have no choice but to act and stop this happening again,” stated the Panel co-chair and former New Zealand Helen Clark.
Up to 125 million more people may have been pushed into extreme poverty
72 million more primary school children at risk of being unable to read or understand simple text because of school closure
Women have borne a disproportionate burden
Gender-based violence at record levels, child marriages have increased
World lost US$7 trillion in GDP in 2020 -- more than 2019 GDP of entire African continent (US$6.7 trillion)