Covid: the response to the pandemic “is a global collective failure”, says “The Lancet”

Posted on September 15, 2022, 1:06 PMUpdated on September 15, 2022 at 2:28 PM

It’s a coincidence of the calendar. On Wednesday, as the head of the World Health Organization believes that the world is not yet in such a good position to end the Covid-19 pandemic, the prestigious scientific journal “The Lancet” published a report that points out how the management of the pandemic. all over the world.

The report summarized by Jeffrey Sachs, chairman of this commission and professor at Columbia University, is very serious. “The staggering death toll in the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic is a deep tragedy and a huge social failure on many levels,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University professor and commission chairman. produced in the scientific journal.

A collective failure

For two years, this commission, composed of almost thirty world experts in public policy, international management, epidemiology, vaccinology, economics, international finance and mental health, analyzed the responses to pandemic. Around 100 other experts also contribute on a non-permanent basis.

After analyzing almost 500 studies and reports, the members of the commission concluded that there is a collective global failure in the way the world copes with the pandemic. “Many governments have failed to meet the basic standards of institutional rationality and transparency; large numbers of people protest against basic public health measures, often influenced by misinformation; too many countries have failed to promote global collaboration to control the pandemic,” said Jeffrey Sachs.

WHO’s over-vigilance

The World Health Organization was not spared, although commission members acknowledged that its work was not facilitated by political pressure. It started with Trump deciding that the United States should leave the WHO. But also the recurring tension between Washington and Beijing over the origin of the vaccine that has contributed to undermine the WHO’s credibility with the public.

However, or because of this, the WHO is acting cautiously and very slowly, accuses “Lancet”. Especially when it comes to identifying the way the virus is transmitted, and therefore wearing a mask is recommended. But also to declare the state of pandemic (which happened in March 2020) and publish the protocols applicable to international travel.

Millions of deaths that could have been avoided

In the opinion of the authors, most governments are also slow to recognize the importance of the virus and are too timid in their interventions. Except perhaps those who, in the past, faced other epidemics of serious respiratory diseases.

The regions of the Western Pacific, East Asia and Oceania “responded with urgency and adopted strategies with the aim of eliminating the virus”, note the authors. Before estimating that if countries had chosen this approach, “it would have been possible to stop the disease without resorting to long-term closures and quarantines and stopping international travel”.

All of these failures or errors cause millions of deaths that could have been prevented, further shows the commission’s report based on data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). According to the latter, if officially on May 31 no less than 6.9 million deaths were officially recorded, the actual number of deaths would be at least twice as high.

The risk of a new variant

Is the end of the pandemic nigh, however, as the WHO boss claims? The experts of the “Lancet” commission were not so enthusiastic. Only better multilateral cooperation will end the pandemic, they say. Not to mention that the risk of a new variant appearing remains high and that there are uncertainties about the long-term duration of immunity caused by vaccination and infection.

As a result, they suggested that countries adopt a “vaccination strategy” that would include mass vaccination, encouragement to wear masks, support for people affected by long-term Covid and better support for least favored countries to get vaccines.

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