The coronavirus pandemic has revealed the world’s “collective failure” to heed warnings and prepare for the global outbreak – transforming “a world at risk” into ”a world in disorder,” according to a report on epidemic preparedness.
“Financial and political investments in preparedness have been insufficient, and we are all paying the price,” according to the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, Reuters reported.
“It is not as if the world has lacked the opportunity to take these steps. There have been numerous calls for action … yet none has generated the changes needed,” the report added.
The board — co-convened by the World Bank and the World Health Organization — is co-chaired by former WHO director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland.
Last year’s GPMB report, which was released a few months before the virus emerged in Wuhan, China, said there was a real threat of “a rapidly spreading pandemic due to a lethal respiratory pathogen.”
It warned that such an event could kill millions and severely damage the global economy.
This year’s report — entitled “A World in Disorder” — said world leaders had never before “been so clearly forewarned of the dangers of a devastating pandemic” — and yet they failed to take appropriate action.
“Tragically and catastrophically, we have seen our worst fears realized,” Brundtland told reporters Monday, according to Reuters. “The impact of COVID-19 is even worse than we anticipated.”
The pandemic has exposed “a collective failure to take pandemic prevention, preparedness and response seriously and prioritize it accordingly,” the report said.
“Pathogens thrive in disruption and disorder. COVID-19 has proven the point,” it said, adding that a lack of leadership was exacerbating the pandemic.
“Failure to learn the lessons of COVID-19 or to act on them with the necessary resources and commitment will mean that the next pandemic, which is sure to come, will be even more damaging,” it said.
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity and a member of the monitoring board, urged world leaders not to repeat the same mistakes.
“This needs more than warm words of solidarity,” he said. “This needs a moment of visionary, historic, political and financial leadership.”