The catastrophic scale of Covid-19 pandemic could have been prevented, a pandemic review panel concluded on Wednesday. Holding absence of decision making and lack of coordination as a major cause of the crisis, the panel comprising of independent experts, said a toxic cocktail of dithering and poor coordination meant that the warning of the deadly infection. “The catastrophic scale of the COVID-19 pandemic could have been prevented had the warning signs been heeded,” the panel concluded, news agency AFP reported.
The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) attributed a series of bad decisions resulting in the death of at least 3.3 million people and causing severe harm to global economy. It further suggested that a new transparent global system should be set up for probing disease outbreaks.
The panel did not spare the WHO, saying it could have declared the situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) — its highest level of alarm — on January 22, 2020. Instead, it waited eight more days before doing so.
The panel was jointly chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The report, “Covid-19: Make it the Last Pandemic”, argued that the global alarm system needed overhauling to prevent a similar catastrophe. The experts called for bold WHO reforms and revitalising national preparedness plans to prevent another “toxic cocktail”.
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. The revelation of the probe panel comes at a time when India has been witnessing a severe COVID-19 wave. India, with a population of 1.4 billion, accounts for half of COVID-19 cases and 30% of deaths worldwide, the World Health Organization said in its latest weekly report.