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COVID-19 could have been prevented, but WHO sounded alert late: Panel

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New Delhi, May 12: COVID-19 could have been prevented earlier, an independent global panel concluded today. It said that a toxic cocktail of dithering and poor coordination meant that the warning signals went unheeded, the panel also said.

COVID-19 could have been prevented, but WHO sounded alert late: Panel

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response said that a series of bad decisions meant that the virus went on to kill at least 3.3 million people and also devastated the economy.

Early responses to the outbreak detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019 lacked urgency with February 2020 a costly lost month as countries failed to heed the alarm, the panel also said.

It said that the richest countries should donate a billion vaccine doses to the poorest. The panel also called on the wealthy nations to fund new organisations dedicated to preparing for the next pandemic.

The panel was chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The report titled COVID-19: Make it the last pandemic said that the global alarm system needed to prevent a similar catastrophe.

ITBP-run COVID-19 centre in Delhi deploys stress counsellors as oxygen support improvesITBP-run COVID-19 centre in Delhi deploys stress counsellors as oxygen support improves

Sirleaf told reporters that the situation we find ourselves in today could have been prevented. It is due to the myriad failures, gaps and delays and preparedness and response, the report said. "Poor strategic choices, unwillingness to tackle inequalities and an uncoordinated system created a toxic cocktail which allowed the pandemic to turn into a catastrophic human crisis," it also said.

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    The panel said that the WHO could have declared the situation as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 22 2020, but it waited eight more days to do so. It was only in March 2020 that the WHO described it as a pandemic.

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