Global level of ‘unpreparedness for next pandemic’ is dangerous
Monday, 14 September 2020
The world is “unprepared for the next pandemic,” which could then prove “even more devastating” than that of Covid-19, an international panel warned on Monday.
“If we do not learn the lessons of Covid-19, or if we do not act with the necessary means and commitment, the next pandemic – which is a certainty – will be even more devastating,” warned the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent monitoring body launched in 2018 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank.
In its annual report, the GPMB complained that little progress has been made, despite its recommendations in last year’s report before the new coronavirus crisis broke out.
“The impact of Covid-19 is even worse than we expected and the measures we recommended (…) have still not been taken,” said Gro Harlem Brundtland, co-chair of the Board and former head of the WHO. “Tragically and catastrophically, our worst fears have come true.”
From an economic point of view, “it would take 500 years to spend the money that the world is losing because of Covid-19 on preparations,” the Council stressed, concluding that “the return on investment from pandemic preparedness is immense.”
Therefore, the report reiterates the call for political leaders to take responsibility, engage in greater cooperation and plan long-term funding to prepare for the next pandemic.
The GPMB also suggests convening an international summit under the aegis of the United Nations, WHO, the World Bank and other international financial institutions to discuss a global framework for emergency preparedness and how to respond to it.
According to Brundtland, “predictable and sustainable financing on the scale required” should be one of the pillars of such a system.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned last week that the Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator faces a funding gap of 35 billion US dollars. The Accelerator was set up to catalyse the development of and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for all countries.