The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, in its interim report, declared on Monday, 18 January, that China could have acted ‘more rapidly’ since the first COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan. The report also pulled up the World Health Organization for not declaring the coronavirus as an international emergency sooner.
“We have failed in our collective capacity to come together in solidarity to create a protective web of human security,” said the report, according to The New York Times.
The panel, in its probe of COVID-19, stated in the report, “Public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January,” adding that the evidence of human-to-human transmission was ignored in “far too many countries”, quoted Reuters.
The independent panel is led by former New Zealand PM Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Its report outlines the collective failure of governments and public health officials in carrying out widespread contact tracing and providing protective equipment like masks and PPE suits, and added that the pandemic alert system was “slow, cumbersome and indecisive”, despite years of preparations and plenty of warning, reported The New York Times.
The report criticised WHO’s delayed yet ineffective response and questioned why the organisation only convened an emergency committee on 22 January 2020, and thereafter, waited till its second meeting on 30 January to declare the pandemic as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), reported Reuters.
A global team of virology experts, appointed by the WHO, arrived in Wuhan on Thursday, 14 January, to begin their investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
In May 2020, over 100 nations asked for an independent probe into how the virus transmitted to humans, for which WHO agreed to hold an inquiry. The meeting was agreed upon by China after months of negotiations.
(With inputs from Reuters and The New York Times.)