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

La majorité des gouvernements ont eux aussi tardé à reconnaître l'importance du virus et ont été trop timides dans leurs interventions, selon les experts du Lancet

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

It’s a coincidence of the calendar. On Wednesday, while the head of the World Health Organization believed that the world had never been in such a good position to end the Covid-19 pandemic, the prestigious scientific journal “The Lancet”, published a report pointing out how the pandemic has been handled globally .

The report summed up by Jeffrey Sachs, chairman of this commission and professor at Columbia University, is very severe. “The staggering death toll in the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic is a profound tragedy and a massive societal failure on many levels,” said Jeffrey Sachs, professor at Columbia University and chairman of the commission. created by the scientific journal.

A collective failure

For two years, this commission, made up of around thirty world experts in public policy, international governance, epidemiology, vaccinology, economics, international finance and mental health, analyzed the responses to the pandemic. Around 100 other experts have also contributed on a non-permanent basis.

After combing through nearly 500 studies and reports, the members of the commission conclude that there has been a collective global failure in the way the world has coped with the pandemic. “Too many governments have failed to meet basic standards of institutional rationality and transparency; too many people have protested against basic public health measures, often influenced by misinformation; too many nations have failed to promote global collaboration to bring the pandemic under control,” said Jeffrey Sachs.

The over-cautiousness of the WHO

The World Health Organization is not spared, even if the members of the commission recognize that its work has not been facilitated by political pressure. Starting with Trump who decided that the United States should leave the WHO. But also the recurring tensions between Washington and Beijing on the origin of the vaccine which have contributed to undermining the credibility of the WHO with the general public.

However, or because of this, the WHO acted too carefully and too slowly, accuses the “Lancet”. Especially when it came to recognizing the mode of transmission of the virus, and therefore recommending the wearing of a mask. But also to declare the state of pandemic (which occurred 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, the majority of governments have also been slow to recognize the importance of the virus and have been too timid in their interventions. Except probably those who had, in the past, been confronted with other epidemics of serious respiratory diseases.

The Western Pacific, East Asia and Oceania regions “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 prolonged closures and confinements and the cessation of international travel”.

All of these failures or errors have caused millions of deaths that could have been preventable, further indicates the report of the commission which is based on data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). According to the latter, if officially as of May 31 no less than 6.9 million deaths had been officially recorded, the real number of deaths would be at least twice as high.

The risk of a new variant

Is the end of the pandemic close, however, as the boss of the WHO asserts? The experts of the “Lancet” commission are less 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 induced by vaccination and by infection.

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

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