The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) has said in its latest report that with proper planning, COVID -19 disease could have been prevented from becoming a pandemic.
As per the report, the initial outbreak became a pandemic as a result of gaps and failings at every critical juncture of preparedness for, and response to, COVID-19:
Years of warnings of an inevitable pandemic threat were not acted on and there was inadequate funding and stress testing of preparedness, despite the increasing rate at which zoonotic diseases are emerging.
Clinicians in Wuhan, China, were quick to spot unusual clusters of pneumonia of unknown origin in late December 2019. The formal notification and emergency declaration procedures under the International Health Regulations, however, were much too slow to generate the rapid and precautionary response required to counter a fast-moving new respiratory pathogen. Valuable time was lost.
Then, for the month following the declaration of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020, too many countries took a ‘wait and see’ approach rather than enacting an aggressive containment strategy that could have forestalled the global pandemic. As COVID-19 spread into more countries, neither national nor international systems managed to meet the initial and urgent demands for supplies. Countries with delayed responses were also characterized by a lack of coordination, inconsistent or non-existent strategies, and the devaluing of science in guiding decision-making. • Coordinated, global leadership was absent. Global tensions undermined multilateral institutions and cooperative action.
Preparedness was under-funded and response funding was too slow. Dedicated financing at the scale required was not available to supply medical equipment, kick-start the search for diagnostics and therapeutics, or ensure vaccines would be available to all. International financing was too little, too late.