An international panel of experts warns that political leaders around the world seem to have ignored the lessons of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, as it's called, is a World Health Organization initiative to figure out what went wrong with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and make recommendations on how to do better next time, according to a Harvard University press release. The overall message? Not great! The panel concluded that global leadership seems like it would rather try to return to business as usual and forget that the pandemic ever happened than actually take steps to fix the problems and improve the conditions that made things so bad this time.
Among other things, the panel recommends creating a Global Threats Council made up of 20 or so world leaders to promote collaboration and communication among powerful governments rather than the finger-pointing, political posturing, and deception that plagued the global COVID-19 response. But more important than any individual suggestion is the central idea that global reform is necessary if we want to actually end the coronavirus pandemic and fare any better against the next one.
"Don't nitpick about the ideas. See the big picture here," panel member David Miliband said in the release. "I really believe that there's a window here, which if we're not careful will close. … We've had the most monumental warning from some combination of natural and man-made disasters. Next time it could be much worse. It could be more transmissible and more fatal."
Allowing wealthy nations to move on instead of immediately acting to improve conditions while the pandemic is fresh in everyone's mind will likely lead to further inaction — and relegate coronavirus management to poorer nations whose outbreaks continue raging for longer, panel member Joanne Liu argued in the release.
"We owe that to the 3.6 million people who died… most of them alone," Liu, a former president of Doctors Without Borders, said. "It needs to happen now, and the window of attention is very short."
"The scale of the crisis has not yet brought the momentum for reform that is necessary," Miliband added. "And I think we have to take that exceedingly seriously, whether you're in government, an NGO, an academic institution, or another capacity."
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READ MORE: Experts urge global reform, before deadlier pandemic emerges [Harvard University]
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