World Is Still Not Prepared For Future Pandemics Even After Covid, WHO Says

The experts said focus is "flagging" when it comes to managing future diseases.

The world is still not ready for any future pandemics despite having years to prepare for Covid, according to an expert panel.

A new report from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, which is part of the World Health Organisation (WHO), casts a damning light on society’s response to global disease – and claims it has not changed since Covid broke out in 2019.

The panel, set up in July 2020, suggested last year political leadership, financing and surveillance systems needed to be improved.

“One year on and political focus to prepare for more waves is flagging,” the authors behind the report explained.

“Work has begun to prevent the next pandemic but at the current pace, the transformative change required will take years to complete.”

What else can we do to prepare?

The new findings from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response found one of the primary obstacles was vaccine inequity.

Covid jabs are not being shared around the world equally, and according to the panel, high-income countries can now vaccinate their entire populations twice over with the large supply. For comparison, less than 13% of those in low-income countries are considered fully vaccinated.

Without vaccines, the virus will be able to evolve and form new, stronger variants.

As the report explained: “Variants may still emerge that our vaccines cannot manage.

“The more quickly we vaccinate now, the less likelihood there is of ever more variants emerging.”

It also called for more therapeutic and diagnostic tests around the world, too.

And it’s not the first warning we’ve had

The report is an eery echo of the Global Health Security Index’s findings from 2021, where it claimed the world was still “dangerously unprepared” for any future outbreaks.

It also claimed the world was no better prepared in 2021 than it was before Covid emerged, and said even the countries with the best resources to hand – such as the US – still had a shocking number of deaths from the virus.

Only last week, former prime minister Gordon Brown (who is also a WHO ambassador on health finance) warned that “we are sleepwalking into the next variant” and that the world had become “complacent” about Covid.

Will anything trigger change?

US President Joe Biden did host a virtual Covid summit in May with other world leaders, meant to revive vaccinations and testing, although the States itself did not pledge any money towards the effort.

In its report, the independent panel did acknowledge this – but warned: ”A ‘charity’ approach is not serving the interests of ending this pandemic or tackling future pandemic threats.”

The WHO has also warned there’s a $15 billion (£12 billion) financing gap to get to where we need to be on Covid around the world.


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