A collective failure by world leaders to heed warnings and prepare for the coronavirus pandemic has transformed “a world at risk” to a “world in disorder”, a damning new report claims.
The review by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) was published just hours after the World Health Organisation reported a record one-day increase in global Covid-19 cases.
The total number of infections rose by 307,930 in just 24 hours on Sunday. Deaths rose by 5,537 to a total of 917,417.
The GPMB said “we are all paying the price” for a lack of financial and political investment in preparedness by heads of state.
“It is not as if the world has lacked the opportunity to take these steps,” it said.
“There have been numerous calls for action over the last decade, yet none has generated the changes needed.”
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The GPMB, co-convened by the World Bank and the WHO, is chaired by the health organisation’s former director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland.
The board’s 2019 report, released a few months before Covid-19 emerged in China, said there was a real threat of “a rapidly spreading pandemic due to a lethal respiratory pathogen” and warned such an event could kill millions and wreak havoc on the global economy.
This year’s report, titled ‘A World in Disorder’, said global leaders had never before “been so clearly forewarned of the dangers of a devastating pandemic”, and yet they had failed to take adequate action.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed “a collective failure to take pandemic prevention, preparedness and response seriously and prioritise it accordingly”, it said.
“Pathogens thrive in disruption and disorder. Covid-19 has proven the point.”
The report noted that despite calling a year ago for heads of government to commit and invest in pandemic preparedness, for health systems to be strengthened and for financial risk planning to take seriously the threat of a devastating pandemic, little progress had been made on any of these.
A lack of leadership, it said, is exacerbating the current 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.
Sunday’s record rise in global infections saw India, the US and Brazil report the biggest spikes in infections.
India reported 94,372 new cases, followed by the US with 45,523 and Brazil with 43,718.
The previous WHO record for new cases was 306,857 on September 6.