Despite Covid-19, the global health system is still “clearly unfit” to prevent another highly infectious pathogen from developing into a pandemic, an expert panel co-chaired by Helen Clark has found.
The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response is calling on the global community to end the Covid-19 pandemic by immediately implementing a raft of recommendations.
The report, released late last night, mainly focuses on redistributing, funding and increasing the availability of vaccines, as well as manufacturing capacity for vaccines.
The panel found that the “time it took from the reporting of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown origin in mid-late December 2019 to a Public Health Emergency of International Concern being declared was too long”.
The group also concluded “that the system as it stands now is clearly unfit to prevent another novel and highly infectious pathogen, which could emerge at any time, from developing into a pandemic”.
The Covid pandemic had caused the deepest shock to the global economy since World War II, the panel found.
“Given the scale of devastation from this pandemic and its continuing impact on people across the globe, the panel resolved to document fully what happened and why, and to make bold recommendations for change,” Clark said.
“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.”
The panel called for these reforms to prevent a future outbreak becoming pandemic:
- A new global system of fully transparent surveillance being established. The system would give the World Health Organization authority to publish information about outbreaks with pandemic potential immediately without the need of approval. It would also dispatch experts to investigate outbreaks at the shortest possible notice.
- A Global Health Threats Council to maintain political commitment to preparedness and response and hold nations accountable through peer recognition and scrutiny.
- Transform the current ACT-A into a platform aiming to deliver global public goods including vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, and supplies swiftly and equitably worldwide.
- Focus and strengthen the authority and financing of the WHO, including the development of a new funding model and an increase of Member State fees.
- The creation of an International Pandemic Financing Facility, which would have the capacity to mobilise long-term (10-15 year) contributions of approximately US$5-10B per year to finance ongoing readiness.