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.” –

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