The report finds that the pandemic has set the sustainable development process back by several years and that investments needed to achieve the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change are deeply underfinanced.
It calls for a new financial architecture to scale up financing for low-income and middle-income countries to improve pandemic preparedness and help achieve the Paris Agreement and the SDGs, among other recommendations.
The Lancet COVID-19 Commission has issued its final report on lessons for the future from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report proposes to “ignite a renaissance in multilateralism, integrating the global response to the risk of future pandemics with actions to address the climate crisis and reversals in sustainable development,” among other recommendations.
Launched on 15 September 2022, the publication aims to “contribute to a new era of multilateral cooperation based on strong UN institutions to reduce the dangers of COVID-19, forestall the next pandemic, and enable the world to achieve the agreed goals of sustainable development, human rights, and peace.”
The report finds that the pandemic has set the sustainable development process back by several years and that investments needed to achieve the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change are deeply underfinanced. According to the Commission, in many countries, the pandemic diverted resources and policy efforts away from longer-term goals, which led to a reversal of progress on the SDGs.
Among the failures of international cooperation in addressing the pandemic, the report highlights: the lack of timely notification of the initial outbreak; delays in acknowledging the airborne exposure pathway and in implementing appropriate measures at national and global levels to slow the spread of the virus; the lack of coordination among countries on suppression strategies; and the failure of governments to adopt best practices for controlling the pandemic and managing economic and social spillovers.
Other failures mentioned in the report include the shortfall of global funding for low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), the failure to ensure adequate global supplies and equitable distribution of key commodities, including vaccines, and the lack of timely, accurate, and systematic data on infections, deaths, viral variants, health system responses, and indirect health consequences. The poor enforcement of appropriate levels of biosafety regulations in the lead-up to the pandemic, the failure to combat systematic disinformation, and the lack of global and national safety nets to protect vulnerable populations also contributed to the “staggering” death toll from COVID-19, the Commission finds.
The Commission recommends that, inter alia:
- Countries implement, on a sustainable basis, a “vaccination-plus strategy” that combines mass vaccination, availability and affordability of testing, treatment for new infections, as well as public health and socioeconomic measures to protect populations;
- The World Health Organization (WHO), governments, and the scientific community intensify the search for the origins of the virus, investigating both a possible zoonotic origin and a possible research-associated origin;
- WHO expand the WHO Science Council to apply urgent scientific evidence for global health priorities;
- Governments establish stronger means of cooperation and coordination in the response to emerging infectious diseases;
- The World Health Assembly (WHA), with the Group of 20 (G20) countries, adopt a ten-year global strategy to bolster every WHO region’s capacity for research and development and commodity production, including vaccines;
- Countries promote universal health coverage (UHC), grounded in human rights and gender equality, and expand pandemic preparedness plans to prevent and respond to emerging infectious diseases;
- A new Global Health Fund be created to add new funding for commodities for disease control, pandemic preparedness and response, and primary health system strengthening in LMICs; and
- The UN Member States, particularly the G20, adopt a new financial architecture to scale up financing for LMICs to improve pandemic preparedness and help achieve the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.
Led by Columbia University’s Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Lancet COVID-19 Commission was established on 9 July 2020, to help governments, civil society, and the UN respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its work is centered around four main themes: suppressing the pandemic; addressing the humanitarian crises arising from the pandemic; addressing the financial and economic crises resulting from the pandemic; and rebuilding an inclusive, fair, and sustainable world. The Commission’s focus is on science-based policy, global cooperation, and international finance. [Publication: The Lancet Commission on Lessons for the Future from the COVID-19 Pandemic] [Lancet COVID-19 Commission’s Publications]