The Citizen (Gauteng)
Catastrophe preventable, says report
Geneva – The catastrophic scale of the Covid-19 pandemic could have been prevented, an independent global panel concluded yesterday, but a “toxic cocktail” of dithering and poor coordination meant the warning signs went unheeded.
The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) said bad decisions meant Covid-19 has killed at least 3.3 million people so far and devastated the global economy.
Institutions “failed to protect people” and science-denying leaders eroded public trust in health interventions, the IPPPR said in its long-awaited final report.
Early responses to the outbreak detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019 “lacked urgency”, with February 2020 a costly “lost month” as countries failed to heed the alarm, said the panel.
To tackle the current pandemic, it called on the richest countries to donate a billion vaccine doses to the poorest.
And the panel called on the world’s wealthiest nations to fund new organisations dedicated to preparing for the next pandemic.
The report was requested by World Health Organisation (WHO) member states last May.
The panel was chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The report, “Covid-19: Make it the Last Pandemic”, argued that the global alarm system needed overhauling to prevent a similar catastrophe.
“The situation we find ourselves in today could have been prevented,” Sirleaf told reporters.
“It is due to a myriad of failures, gaps and delays in preparedness and response.”
The emergence of Covid-19 was characterised by a mixture of “some early and rapid action, but also by delay, hesitation and denial”.
“Poor strategic choices, unwillingness to tackle inequalities and an uncoordinated system created a toxic cocktail which allowed the pandemic to turn into a catastrophic human crisis.” –