World

Leaders were warned for years but did nothing, says pandemic report

LONDON: A collective failure by political leaders to heed warnings and prepare for an infectious disease pandemic has transformed "a world at risk" to a "world in disorder", according to a report on international epidemic preparedness.

"Financial and political investments in preparedness have been insufficient, and we are all paying the price," said the report by The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB).

"It is not as if the world has lacked the opportunity to take these steps," it added. "There have been numerous calls for action... over the last decade, yet none has generated the changes needed."

The GPMB, co-convened by the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO), is chaired by former WHO director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland. She also chairs an independent watchdog that monitors the WHO.

The board's 2019 report, released a few months before the novel coronavirus emerged in China, said there was a real threat of "a rapidly spreading pandemic due to a lethal respiratory pathogen", and warned such an event could kill millions and wreak havoc on the global economy.

This year's report - titled A World in Disorder - said world leaders had never before "been so clearly forewarned of the dangers of a devastating pandemic", and yet they had failed to take adequate action.

"Pathogens thrive in disruption and disorder. Covid-19 has proven the point," the report said.

Meanwhile, WHO reported a record one-day increase in global cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 307,930 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases were from India, the United States and Brazil, according to the agency's website. Deaths rose by 5,537 to a total of 917,417.

India reported 94,372 new cases, followed by the US with 45,523 and Brazil with 43,718.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 306,857 on Sept 6. - REUTERS

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