Coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China, when clinicians noticed an alarmingly large number of patients with the same symptoms being admitted into the hospital. Ever since this discovery in late December 2019, the threat was out in the open, reported by media coverage and online disease reporting sites. It had even reached the ears of WHO, who of which are responsible for the declaration of an international-scale threat. So why was the world so late to respond?
WHO commissioned a report to evaluate the happenings of this pandemic and the shortcomings of global action which allowed it to scale this high. The report of the panel was chaired by former New Zealand prime minister and former President of Liberia; Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. They claimed there were “weak links at every point in the chain.”
WHO was underpowered in a situation it should have been allowed to steer, the global-scale preparation was extensively underfunded and inconsistent throughout vital periods of the pandemic. Most importantly, there was an immense lack of global political leadership. The world simply did not react quickly enough.
This international emergency could have been announced on the 22nd of January rather than the 30th, and Clark stated that February was “a month of lost opportunity to avert a pandemic, as so many countries chose to wait and see.” Countries, rather than devaluing the scientific findings of other countries should have been forming a safe plan for their own country if and when it found its way there.
Action was not taken at the right time. In fact, for many countries action was taken after the severity of the pandemic had critically affected them past the point of recovery. WHO’s declaration of the pandemic was delayed when it could have been initiated earlier.
Now, WHO recommends a Global Health Threats Council to be established. This council will keep watch over the threats of the pandemic and ensure there is always collective, immediate action taken.
WHO stated from here on out, the commitment of affluent global leaders is expected to carry forward to ensure the world can be given the vaccine. WHO has also stated that high-income countries who have ordered enough vaccines for their nation will have to contribute to helping other low- and middle-income countries receive vaccines for their population. At least 1 billion doses will be administered by September 1st, and more than 2 billion hopefully delivered by mid-2022. This project will happen through Covax, an UN-backed initiative to deliver vaccines to 92 low-income as well as middle-income countries that do not have enough vaccines or funds to order them.
60% of the $19 billion required will be provided from G7 countries while the remaining 40% will come out of the pockets of the other G20 countries as well as various high-income countries that can afford to spare finance. Mistakes and shortcomings were found in how fast the global leaders reacted to 2020’s looming threat. Now, WHO is taking steps to ensure the world does recover from it, and in case of future threats, the same mistakes are not repeated once more.
Reported By: Ehtisham
Written By: Leah Latif