Great Decisions 2024 | Topic 8
Looking back at the covid-19 pandemic, there are many lessons to take away in terms of domestic and international policies. Although this pandemic seems to have waned, how can we apply these lessons to future pandemics? Will countries cooperate, and will a consensus emerge on how to manage global health challenges?
The GPMB published its first annual report in September 2019 titled, A World At Risk. This report provided a snapshot of the world’s ability to prevent and contain a serious global health threat. It also called for seven urgent priority actions leaders must take to prepare across five areas: leadership, building multisectoral country systems, research and development, financing, and robust international coordination.
The High Level Independent Panel was asked by the G20 in January 2021 to propose how finance can be organized, systematically and sustainably, to reduce the world’s vulnerability to future pandemics1.Our report sets out critical and actionable solutions and investments to meet the challenge of an age of pandemics, and to avoid a repeat of the catastrophic damage that COVID-19 has brought. The Panel arrived at its recommendations after intensive deliberations and consultations with a wide range of stakeholders and experts around the globe over a period of four months. We urge that our proposals be discussed, developed further, and implemented as a matter of urgency.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a sign of how vulnerable and fragile our world is. The virus has upended societies, put the world’s population in grave danger and exposed deep inequalities. Division and inequality between and within countries have been exacerbated, and the impact has been severe on people who are already marginalized and disadvantaged. In less than a year and a half, COVID-19 has infected at least 150 million people and killed more than three million. It is the worst combined health and socioeconomic crisis in living memory, and a catastrophe at every level.
After months of devastating heat waves, wildfires, floods, and storms across much of the globe, it has become easy to forget about the other deadly threat that recently dominated the public consciousness: COVID-19. Pandemic amnesia has taken hold, even as COVID cases rise again, and the pandemic’s economic, societal, and health ripple effects continue to be felt, especially in the most vulnerable communities. As people adapt to living with COVID as a lower-level, endemic threat, it is time to reignite efforts to strengthen collective defenses against the next infectious disease threat― whether it be a new COVID variant or a novel pathogen―which experts predict is inevitable and could be far deadlier.
Decision-makers discussing landmark agreements on health and biodiversity must include four actions to reduce the risk of animals and people exchanging viruses.
This one is far from over, but the window to prepare for future threats is closing fast.By Ed Yong
Great Decisions 2024 cover image.