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Key lessons to improve pandemic preparedness

von Rosa Ann Seidler

A short synopsis and comparison of the three main COVID-19 response evaluation reports at WHO and Member State level

This document analyses and compares the recommendations of the COVID-19 response reports presented at the 74th World Health Assembly. It focuses on three key sections of each report - the handling of the health crisis by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Member States, the recommendations to end the current pandemic, and the required steps to prevent future pandemics.

Close to two years after the first outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have been able to learn from the initial knee-jerk reactions and transition to more tested and coordinated responses to contain the global outbreak. In face of the new virus, countries had to quickly devise strategies ranging from vaccine development and following vaccinations strategies to public health measures and border control initiatives and travel measures, often at the expense of equity and effectiveness.

These past two years have created space for reflection on how governments and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have dealt with COVID-19. Key questions include: what approaches have proven effective in addressing the global health challenges associated with COVID-19, what efforts need to be scaled up to end this pandemic, and what do these lessons teach us about preventing future pandemics?

Three reports presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2021 were tasked with answering these questions: (i) the International Health Regulations (IHR) Review Committee, (ii) the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness & Response (IPPPR), (iii), and the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee (IOAC).

The paper synthesizes common findings but also highlights differences between the COVID-19 response reports. It also provides a brief overview of the current evidence to a range of stakeholders, from policymakers to health practitioners, and can be a resource used in ongoing discussions on WHO global emergency preparedness. Knowing which proposals are backed by consensus among the three expert committees can provide insight into their effectiveness and chance for implementation.


Read the full synopsis in the pdf document below.