A year-and-a-half into the coronavirus pandemic, the world has still done far too little to respond and has failed to learn from its mistakes, a global health monitor said on Tuesday.
In a report launched in Berlin, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, an independent body set up by the World Health Organisation and the World Bank, slammed the continued failings in the global response to the pandemic.
“If the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic was defined by a collective failure to take preparedness seriously and act rapidly on the basis of science, the second has been marked by profound inequalities and a failure of leaders to understand our interconnectedness and act accordingly,” the report said.
The pandemic has exposed a world that is “unequal, divided, and unaccountable”, it concluded.
“The health emergency ecosystem reflects this broken world. It is not fit for purpose and needs major reform.”
The report, launched at the Global Health Summit in Berlin, comes as the number of deaths from the coronavirus nears five million, according to an AFP tally of official sources.
Taking into account excess mortality directly and indirectly linked to COVID-19, the WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.
The grim milestone approaches in the context of a sharp divide between wealthier and poorer regions in terms of vaccination rates.
– ‘Deep shame’ –
World Trade Organisation chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala pointed out earlier this month that, of more than six billion vaccine doses administered worldwide, only 1.4 per cent of people in poor countries have been fully vaccinated.
“Scientific advancement during COVID-19, particularly speed of vaccine development, gives us just cause for pride,” GPMB co-chair Elhadj As Sy said in his foreword to the report.
“However, we must feel deep shame over multiple tragedies — vaccine hoarding, the devastating oxygen shortages in low-income countries, the generation of children deprived of education, the shattering of fragile economies and health systems.”
He also said that the millions of deaths from the pandemic was “neither normal nor acceptable”.
“Sadly, there is scant evidence that we are learning the right lessons from this pandemic. Thousands continue to die every day, yet many talk and act as if the pandemic is over,” he said.
In a 2020 report, the GPMB said the pandemic had already revealed how little the world had focused on preparing for such disasters, despite ample warnings that large disease outbreaks were inevitable.