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It is high time we start preparing for future pandemics

21 15 1

Five million lives worldwide have already been lost to COVID-19, and the World Health Organization Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (WHO/ACT-A) grimly predict five million more lives will be lost to the disease in months to come. Alarmingly also, COVID-19 cases will swell from the 260 million confirmed so far to 460 million by the end of 2022.

The damage from COVID-19 has been so catastrophic that, when the World Health Assembly (WHA) meets in a special session, starting November 29, its task is nothing less than preventing such a tragedy from re-occurring. The damage from COVID-19 has been so ruinous that we now need an internationally binding agreement to prevent future outbreaks from ever becoming pandemics again.

In the words of WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a new agreement should be underpinned by a high-level commitment to health for all grounded in equity and solidarity between nations. Not only should all people have fair access to what they need for their health, irrespective of their wealth or their income, but the international community should ensure the equitable use and distribution of available medical resources. For that to happen, we need a fully functioning global surveillance system, the fast-tracking and sharing of support in emergencies and predictable finance.

Nothing illustrates the need for this more clearly than our collective failure, as an international community, to meet our promise to secure the equitable distribution of vaccines. For while, thanks to brilliant science and strong manufacturing performance, we will have produced 12 billion vaccine doses by Christmas – enough to vaccinate every adult in the world – 95 percent of adults still remain unprotected in low-income countries. This is perhaps the greatest public policy failure of our times.

The WHO’s internationally agreed adult vaccination target for every country – 40 percent by December –........

© Al Jazeera

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