Need coordinated global response to tackle pandemics: Health leaders at WEF

At least one novel pathogen emerges every year, with each one of those having the potential to morph into another worldwide pandemic and therefore, there is a need for a coordinated global response to tackle pandemics, health leaders said here on Wednesday.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 here, they noted that the official count of COVID-19 deaths is more than 6 million, but the tail end of the pandemic is still raging in some parts of the world.

Improved global coordination and regional capacity building will help ensure the world is better prepared for the next pandemic, leading health experts said.

“We must not lose this moment of potential transformative change in building preparedness,” said Helen E Clark, Board Chair, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, World Health Organization (WHO). “Unfortunately, political resolve to solve COVID is beginning to fade.”

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging in many countries. “To date, the African continent has fully vaccinated just 18 per cent of its adult population.”



This is mostly due to the lack of virus testing and vaccine administration capacity, he said.

“Investing in health systems and regional bodies like Africa CDC and African Medicines Agency must be a key priority. We have to act in the full expectation that there will be another pandemic.”

Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said it was critical to identify and isolate viral outbreaks early. “Infectious disease is an exponential phenomenon, and less than 2 per cent of overall deaths occur in the first 100 days”.

“Unfortunately, much of the world’s pandemic risk resides in countries which do not have the capacity to respond quickly and effectively,” he said. “You have to have global capacity if you are serious about pandemics.”

Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, argued for the need for “multi-pathogen infrastructure and capacity”. That is, to ensure that broad public health health surveillance and infrastructure are available across the infectious disease spectrum.

“We need to finish the job – and we can do that by investing intelligently in infrastructures like lab networks, community health workers, and supply chains and simultaneously help countries defeat HIV, TB and malaria as well as make them safer against future pathogens,” he said.

Francis deSouza, President and CEO of Illumina, predicted that the pandemic will launch the world into what he describes as the “Era of Biology” in which human health, longevity and biology will underpin the 21st century.

“The amount of breakthrough innovations that have occurred during the pandemic period is unprecedented,” he said. On the sequencing front, for example, the price has dropped 99 per cent over the past few years. This has enabled us to deploy sequencing around the world to over 190 countries.

“However, we are only as strong as the weakest among us, hence we need to build a global infrastructure and have a coordinated global response to the next outbreak,” he added.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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