DEating and illness from COVID-19 continues to rise again. In the last week of April, more than 93,000 people were killed, approaching the world’s worst second wave. How will this still happen? How can some countries still experience infection when we know how to prevent?
In the past eight months, the Independent Commission for Epidemic Preparedness and Response has been rigorously examining evidence of what happened to enable Covid-19 to have a firm grip and why. The committee spoke with hundreds of experts and those at the forefront of the response and conducted extensive research of manuscripts and numerous literary reviews.
Our report released today is clear. But it’s fair to examine how many sets of failures lead to the greatest health, social and economic disasters in life’s memory. The time it took to report pneumonia cases of unknown origin at the end of December 2019 until the declaration of an international public health emergency was too long. February 2020 is still a “lost month” due to the spread of the virus. This swift and consistent action from the outset can make our world today look very different.
Our 28-country studies of diverse national responses show that there are national leaders who devalue science, reject the severity of COVID, slow response and promote distrust among the people. This is in stark contrast to leaders who have taken a consistent approach across governments, keeping people safe and virus free. They have shown what should be done everywhere – and what can still be done.
Today, we face viruses and strains racing through a population struggling with inadequate public health measures and the irrational, unequal and slow distribution and provision of vaccines. The situation in India is of great concern as it suffers so badly and as it represents the serious threat of Covid-19 still to form.
To put an end to this epidemic, high-income countries that have a vaccine pipeline for adequate coverage of their population, along with expanding their sizes, should commit to providing low- and middle-income countries.92 Countries that meet Gavi’s Covax advanced marketing commitments have at least 1 billion vaccines available by September 2021, with more than 2 billion doses by mid 2022.
Top vaccine-producing countries and manufacturers should agree on voluntary licensing and technology transfers within the next three months. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) should call a pivotal meeting as quickly as possible and, if an agreement cannot be reached, waive their intellectual property rights under an intellectual property agreement related to: Trade in intellectual property rights (travel) should be in effect.
At the same time, all national governments must take proven public health measures to stop the spread of the virus. The roller coaster with patchy controls and early restriction cancellation didn’t work.
New pathogens with potential to spread could arise at any time and there would be no excuse for the “wait and see” approach. Investments now need to be prepared, not when the next crisis will occur.
The committee is proposing bold reforms to transform the global epidemic prevention and response system to stop future outbreaks from becoming a global crisis again.
The committee called for the establishment of a new Global Health Threat Council, created by the United Nations General Assembly and headed by the Heads of State and Government. Political commitments in disease preparedness and response should be maintained, and stakeholders are held accountable.
Moreover, we believe that we must strengthen national and global responsibility and productive action through epidemic framework conventions, which should be negotiated and agreed upon within six months.
We encourage WHO to establish a new system for surveillance based on full transparency.WHO should have the explicit power to disseminate information on potential outbreaks without the permission of the relevant government. In addition, the World Health Organization should be empowered to send experts to investigate the epidemic threats in any country at the shortest possible time.
The World Health Organization must be strengthened and achieved greater financial independence through unnamed resources and increased member state fees. In other WHO reforms, the position of director-general should be limited to a single seven-year term.
Need additional funding The new international outbreak funding facility raises as much as $ 10 billion (£ 7 billion) each year to prepare, with disbursements of $ 50-1 billion, the report said. Know briefly in case of an epidemic announcement
The committee – 13 experts with knowledge of global health, politics and economics and including three former heads of government – did not set any blame or pointing fingers at any particular country or institution. But now everyone has to apply what we have learned to make sure the world does not suffer like this any more.
The shelves of UN storerooms and the country’s capitals are lined with reports and reviews of the previous global crisis that were largely neglected. This report cannot be collected. It’s time for serious advice to prepare the world to stop the epidemic from becoming an epidemic.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Searleve are co-chair of the Independent Committee for the Preparedness and Response to the Plague.