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WHO panel highlights effective multilateralism in Covid response

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Geneva, Jan 19, 2021-
A latest interim report by a WHO pandemic review panel has highlighted effective multilateralism in the preparation and response to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, saying that the consequences of this pandemic remind the world of how important effective multilateralism is.

“Geopolitical tensions have impacted on the response, and the resulting pandemic has given us many interlinked reasons to rethink and reset the way in which the international system and countries prepare and respond to global health threats,” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, co-chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, said in the report issued late Monday.

The Panel’s report, available in six UN official languages, will be discussed at the on-going World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board meeting.

The Panel was established by the WHO Director-General and its mandate is to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international response to Covid-19.

Its final report is scheduled for the World Health Assembly in May.

According to the interim report, the Panel found that member states have high expectations of the WHO but have left it underpowered to do that job.

“The WHO is expected to validate reports of disease outbreaks for their pandemic potential and, deploy support and containment resources, but its powers and funding to carry out its functions are limited,” said Sirleaf.

The Panel said even when the WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020, the loudest alarm possible under the International Health Regulations, many countries took minimal action internally and internationally to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

It also found that the international system for alert and response is not fit for purpose.

The Panel expressed deep concerns over the continued significant rises in the numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths, saying that since January, the world has been witnessing an average of almost 12,500 daily deaths.

The report comes as the total number of global coronavirus cases has topped 95.5 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 2.03 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Tuesday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 95,530,563 and 2,039,283, respectively.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 24,073,555 and 398,977, respectively, according to the CSSE. (Agency)

Covid-19 vax: WHO warns of ‘catastrophic moral failure’

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