The system that the world had to face pandemics was useless and must be reformed to face the next one that arrives, but countries have also been responsible for the current situation when they preferred to “wait and see what happened” in the first months, without taking the measures that would have stopped the coronavirus .
This is the overwhelming conclusion of the Independent Pandemic Preparedness and Response Panel, made up of experts and personalities who examined for eight months the failures in the management of the pandemic , both nationally and internationally, and which released its conclusions on Wednesday. .
This mission was entrusted to him by the World Health Organization (WHO), which in turn received instructions to do so from its member states, alarmed in the middle of last year by the speed at which the pandemic was worsening and the suspicions that this entity had not acted correctly in its initial phase.
His main conclusion is that globally the world showed that it had not learned anything from past crises and that the health, economic and social tragedy caused by COVID-19 could have been avoided. “And if we do not act to change it now, it will not protect us from the next pandemic threat that could occur at any time,” explained Helen Clark, co-chair of the panel and former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
The panel, co-chaired by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, found that there was a shared responsibility and that preventing such dire situations from recurring will require major international reform in which countries they must commit resources and political will.
“There were countries that underestimated the value of science, denied the seriousness of the disease and were slow to respond, which had dire consequences”
“The time elapsed from the notification of a group of cases of pneumonia of unknown origin in mid-December to the declaration of an International Public Health Emergency (January 30, 2020) was too long,” the panel maintains in the report that introduced today.
Clark argued that the global emergency could have been declared as early as January 22 , after the first meeting of the WHO Emergency Committee, which assesses the seriousness of a health threat and recommends whether it should be considered an international emergency, and not wait for for this same group to meet a second time.
However, if the WHO did not act as it should at certain times, it was because it does not have the powers required in such a serious situation, the Panel concluded.
” Sensitivities about sovereignty should not cause delays in alerting the world to the threat of a new pathogen with pandemic potential,” he added.
Countries also bore a large share of responsibility for the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus, according to the Panel’s findings.
“February was a lost month in which many more countries could have taken serious measures to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and prevent a health, social and economic catastrophe,” the experts concluded.
Clark recalled that most governments chose to “wait and see what would happen and it was not until they began to see that the intensive care units were filled that they began to act, but it was too late.”
“There were countries that underestimated the value of science, denied the seriousness of the disease and were slow to respond , which had dire consequences,” added the co-chair of the Panel, whose creation came amid the suspicion that the United States had instigated against the WHO.
The Donald Trump Administration accused the Organization of having covered up the delay with which China reported the first cases of coronavirus, as well as of having mismanaged the crisis, while in his country it denied the seriousness of the new virus and despised the use of masks.
The United States has registered 576,000 deaths from covid-19 and 32.3 million cases, the highest figures in the world in both categories.
Clark considered that the reforms and new rules that are adopted to face future pandemics should address in a particular way the respiratory infections easily transmitted from person to person.
Regarding prevention measures, he acknowledged that if travel restrictions had been imposed faster and more extensively, the spread of the virus would have been reduced.