Inquiry into pandemic finds WHO should have declared global emergency earlier

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The International Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response issued its report on Wednesday into the global handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling for a new transparent global system to be set up for investigating disease outbreaks.

The report, “COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic”, is to be debated at the World Health Organization’s annual ministerial assembly opening on May 24. The panel of independent experts led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf:

FAILINGS

1) The World Health Organization (WHO) should have declared the new coronavirus outbreak in China an international emergency earlier instead of waiting to Jan. 30, it said.

2) The WHO’s Emergency Committee did not recommend travel restrictions, due to WHO’s International Health Regulations, which “serve to constrain rather than facilitate rapid action” and need revamping, it said.

3) Governments failed to grasp that the Jan. 30 emergency declaration was WHO’s “loudest possible alarm” and that it has no authority to declare a pandemic. Many countries failed to take strong measures until the WHO eventually did describe it as a pandemic on March 11, it said.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, was allowed to evolve into a “catastrophic pandemic” that has killed more than 3.4 million people and devastated the world economy, the report added.

via Reuters