World could have prevented COVID catastrophe: Pandemic panel

The catastrophic scale of the COVID-19 pandemic could have been prevented, an independent global panel concluded on May 12, but a "toxic cocktail" of dithering and poor coordination meant the warning signs went unheeded.

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response said a series of bad decisions meant COVID-19 went on to kill more than 3.3 million people so far and devastate 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 also urged the world's wealthiest nations to fund new organizations dedicated to preparing for the next pandemic.

Requested by World Health Organization (WHO) member states last May, the report, "COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic", argued that the global alarm system needed overhauling to prevent a similar catastrophe.

"We have identified failures at every stage and we do believe that it could have been possible to prevent this pandemic," panel co-chair and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said.

"We cannot simply point to one individual who is ultimately responsible," she said.

The report said the emergence of COVID-19 was characterized 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...

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