May 12, 2021

Pandemic Action Network Statement on the Report of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Make it the Last Pandemic

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the long-awaited report from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (The Independent Panel): COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, which assesses the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and recommends steps world leaders should take to end this pandemic and prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from ever happening again. 

Pandemic Action Network co-founder Carolyn Reynolds said, “The Independent Panel’s report affirms what Pandemic Action Network has long stressed: That despite repeated warnings over many years, the world was woefully unprepared to mobilize with the urgency, speed, and scale required to prevent an emerging infectious disease outbreak from escalating into a devastating and costly pandemic, whose health and socio-economic impacts will be felt for years, if not decades. As the Independent Panel rightly notes, COVID-19 was a preventable disaster — one that continues to prey on the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in countries at all levels of income.  

“The Independent Panel’s urgent calls on wealthy nations to supply at least 1 billion vaccines to low- and middle-income countries by September, fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), accelerate technology transfer and remove trade-related barriers are imperative, together with the call for the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a roadmap with clear goals, targets, and milestones for ending the pandemic. Sadly, the fact that these recommendations are needed nearly 18 months into the crisis — and when the last week marked the highest number of COVID-19 cases the world has recorded to date — speaks volumes about the failures of the global response.  

“Yet as we continue to battle this pandemic, we cannot afford to ignore the next one. We commend the Independent Panel for keeping a clear eye on the future. Many of the Panel’s recommendations reflect the priorities we have set out in our 2021 Agenda for Action, including to: elevate global and national leadership on pandemic preparedness and response; increase investments in preparedness and surge capacity through a new international financing facility;  strengthen the WHO; create a rapid global surveillance and alert system; and ensure a pre-negotiated global mechanism for rapid development and equitable supply of lifesaving tools and technologies. We also support the Panel’s call for a UN Special Summit this fall at which heads of state will commit to action. 

“Most of the Independent Panel’s recommendations are not novel, and they will not solve all the weaknesses exposed by this pandemic. But they provide a starting point both to accelerate the end of this crisis and build a better prepared world. At upcoming global summits, world leaders must take steps to address pandemics as the grave and existential threat to humanity that they are. Too many times in the past, recommendations on pandemic preparedness have faded once the immediate crisis has waned. We owe it to the 3.3 million people who have lost their lives and the brave heroes of this pandemic — the frontline health and essential workers, the epidemiologists, the researchers, the educators, the community activists — not to let that happen again. We want to see a step change in the ambition of world leaders to end this pandemic and pandemic-proof our future and we hope the Independent Panel’s report will be the catalyst for that change.”