The world remains “dangerously unprepared” for the next outbreak, according to a report released Monday by the world’s largest humanitarian network.
The report, published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, cites the 2021 Global Health Security Index ( Global Health Security Index). The index evaluates the health emergency preparedness of nearly 200 countries. With a full score of 100, no country scored more than 80 points, and the global average score was only 39 points.
The authors say this average score is the same as in 2019 before the pandemic, “suggesting that health event preparedness has not materially improved since the start of the pandemic”.
The report said that the new crown “by almost any indicator, the worst disaster in living memory.” The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami came second, killing about 250,000 people.
The report said that preparations for the next epidemic must start now, while the current epidemic is not over, because the next epidemic may be “imminent”.
The authors wrote: “If the experience of the new crown epidemic does not allow us to speed up our preparations, what else can alert mankind?” Serious health inequities.
WHO extends pandemic status
The World Health Organization has been keeping tabs on a list of “priority pathogens” that could trigger outbreaks and pandemics, a list that includes Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease, Marburg virus Coronavirus, Lassa fever, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Coronavirus, Henipa Virus Disease, Rift Valley Fever and “Disease X”. Disease X refers to an unknown pathogen with the potential to cause a pandemic. The WHO updated the list in 2019 and said it would publish a revised list in the first quarter of this year.
On the same day that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies released its report, WHO announced that it would extend the new crown international public health emergency for another three months, bringing the new crown pandemic into its fourth year.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release: “There is no doubt that the current situation has improved significantly since the peak of the Omicron outbreak a year ago.” International public health emergency.
However, he said that since the beginning of December, the number of deaths from the new crown has continued to increase globally every week, and more than 170,000 people have died of the new crown in the past two months. “This is just the announced death toll. We are well aware that the actual death toll is higher.”
The WHO’s extension of the international health emergency comes at a time when China’s epidemic situation is at its worst. China ended its long-running “zeroing out” policy in December. According to a recent study, as of January 11, about 900 million people in China were infected with the new crown.
Japan has also recently experienced the worst period of the epidemic. The successive outbreaks caused by the Omicron mutant strain BA.5 led to the highest number of deaths in Japan during the epidemic.
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told Fortune on Friday that he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the WHO decision. Substantial impact, as emergencies do not bring additional funding, powers, or response options.
“The only thing that matters is public perception,” he said. “While the virus hasn’t gone away, it’s over for most of the world. If you declare that the state of emergency is over, most people will interpret that as the end of the epidemic.” (Fortune Chinese website)
Translated by: Liu Jinlong
Reviewer: Wang Hao
The world remains “dangerously unprepared” for the next pandemic, according to a report released Monday by the world’s largest humanitarian network.
The report, released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, cites the Johns Hopkins–backed 2021 Global Health Security Index, which rated nearly 200 countries on health emergency preparedness. On a scale of 100, no country ranked 80 above an —and the global average was a mere 39.
The average is nearly identical to what it was in 2019, before the pandemic, “indicating there has been no real improvement in health emergency preparedness” since the beginning of the pandemic, the authors wrote.
COVID has been “the biggest disaster in living memory, by almost any measure,” according to the report. So far, global recorded deaths sit above 6.5 million—this in contrast to the No. 2 deadliest disaster on the organization’s list, the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, which killed around a quarter-million people.
Preparation for the next pandemic must start now—in the midst of the current pandemic—because the next pandemic could be “just around the corner,” the report states.
“If the experience of COVID-19 won’t quicken our steps toward preparedness, what will?” the authors wrote, calling on governments to build trust in public health systems ahead of tragedies, and to address health inequities, which worse during tragedies.
WHO extends COVID-19 pandemic status
The World Health Organization is keeping its eye on a list of “priority pathogens” that have the potential to cause outbreaks and pandemics, including Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever; the Ebola and Marburg viruses; Lassa fever; coronaviruses Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) , severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and COVID-19; henipaviruses, Rift Valley fever, and “Disease X,” which represents an unknown pathogen with pandemic potential. The list was last updated in 2019, and a revised list should be released in the first quarter of this year, according to the organization.
The release of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ report comes the same day as the WHO announced that it would extend the COVID-19 international public health emergency another three months, pushing it into its fourth year.
“There is no doubt we are in a far better situation now than we were a year ago, when the Omicron wave was at its peak,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a news release—three years to the day he announced the start of the emergency.
But weekly global COVID deaths have been rising since the beginning of December, and more than 170,000 people have died of COVID over the past two months, he added. “And that’s just the reported deaths. We know the actual number is much higher.”
The extension comes as China endures some of its darkest days of the pandemic, after ending long-standing “zero COVID” restrictions in December. An estimated 900 million Chinese have been infected with COVID as of Jan. 11, according to a recent study.
Japan, too, recently saw its darkest days of the pandemic, when back-to-back waves of Omicron strain BA.5 caused deaths there to skyrocket to an all-pandemic high.
Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), told Fortune on Friday he wasn’t sure if the committee’s decision made a difference from a practical standpoint, given that emergency status doesn’t offer much in the way of additional funds, power, or options to respond.
“The only thing that is important is the public perception,” he said. “Most of the world is over this pandemic, even though the virus is not done with us yet. If you say it’s no longer an emergency, most people are going to interpret that as the pandemic is done.”
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