The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response initiated by the World Health Organisation to evaluate the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic said there were warnings about a pandemic long before the outbreak of COVID-19.
According to the panel, the world could have done better in the fight against the pandemic, only that systems and plans designed to protect the people had not worked as intended.
The WHO panel disclosed this at its first virtual meeting on Thursday.
This disclosure was coming at a time the global COVID-19 cases surpassed thirty million with more than 940,000 deaths recorded.
The Independent Panel is trying to unravel why COVID-19 became a global pandemic and what lessons could be learned.
The panel is also to make recommendations aimed at safeguarding human health, economic and social wellbeing in the face of future global health threats.
In her opening remarks at the meeting, former President of Liberia and Panel Co-Chair of the Independent Panel, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said, “The Independent Panel believes the world could have done better.
“We’ve had years of warnings about a pandemic, and have institutions, instruments, and plans that were designed to protect us.
“But, in most places, the systems and plans have not worked as intended. I hope that as a result of our independent work, we will be able to determine why the systemic breakdowns and inadequacies have persisted for so long.”
According to the panel, an urgent part of its work will be to establish the timeline of the first known cases of COVID-19, the reporting of that, and the subsequent actions taken by the WHO and countries as the SARS-CoV-2 virus spread from one reported locale to almost every country in the world.
Also speaking, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Co-Chair of the panel, Helen Clark, said, “While we are clear that The Independent Panel must shed light on what has happened and why this exercise is not a blame game.
“It is about truth-seeking, distilling lessons learned and making recommendations for how collectively the world can be better prepared to respond, both as this pandemic rolls on and as future potential pandemics loom.”
The Co-Chairs noted that the Panel will review the state of the pandemic and evidence on the work that has been done to minimise the health and societal impacts of the pandemic, including both in global guidance and in-country responses.
The Panel will consult widely to seek evidence and views from a broad range of people, including from WHO, Member States, health experts, economists, specialists on the social impacts of the pandemic
It will also seek views from civil society, the private sector and from the general public – including from those people who have suffered the longer-term impacts of COVID-19.
A critical priority for the Panel is to explore strengthening of the international system which has oversight of global health security to ensure that it is fit for the purpose.
It will review the present pandemic from its initial phase, including the global alerts about it, its spread, country responses, and its wide societal impact.
At the historic 73rd World Health Assembly in May, Member States adopted a landmark resolution that called on WHO to initiate an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the lessons learned from the international health response to COVID-19.
The WHO announced the initiation of the panel in July.