Time for a Different Approach: G20 Lessons and What’s Ahead

With the backdrop of Ukraine and missiles killing two people in Poland, it was surprising that G20 Leaders agreed to anything at all at this year’s Leaders’ Summit in Bali. So while the very existence of a Leaders’ Declaration (short of a full communiqué) was hailed as a positive, the document was heavier on narrative than substance. The role and risk of pandemics in this moment of converging crises were underplayed with only the creation of the new (and severely underfunded) Pandemic Fund giving some light to an otherwise pedestrian roll call of pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR) issues.

So what did G20 leaders actually do?

Although the G20 Bali declaration name checks some of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic right at the beginning — economic downturn, increased poverty, slowed global recovery, and hindering the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals — the issue then drops off until much later in the declaration. There are only a few health-specific paragraphs describing the ongoing COVID-19 response, which has been characterized by an astonishing lack of urgency and leadership throughout the pandemic. There is a reason we are looking ahead to the fourth year of the COVID pandemic.

While the Indonesian Presidency certainly deserves recognition for their leadership in getting the Pandemic Fund over the line and officially launched, the US$1.4 billion in its coffers is a far cry from the US$10.5 billion needed (per year!) to plug even basic PPR gaps (see the latest in our Pandemic Fund Tracker). Right now, we are only as strong as our weakest link. It is in our collective interest to ensure all countries and governments contribute, all take part in decision-making, and all benefit — a new model for a new era.

The declaration was too vague on Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) and reform of the multilateral development banks — especially at a time when Mia Mottley’s Bridgetown Agenda has gained traction and provides a clear roadmap for some practical steps that need the G20 behind them. It was good that SDRs got a mention, but the major economies should be signing over most, if not all, of their SDRs to LMICs, and at least the 30% put down by President Macron. Overall, the declaration was a missed opportunity to put wind in the sails of that agenda.

Bigger news on that front came in the post-Summit press conferences. French President Emmanuel Macron announced the convening of a conference in Paris in June 2023 where representatives will develop “a new financial pact with the South” — by advancing key issues, including SDRs, aspects of the Bridgetown Agenda, and climate finance. The commitment is a sign that at least one G7 leader has understood the vast scale-up of finance required for the resilience agenda to fight climate change and pandemics. (Note: Pandemic Action Network partners have been calling for this.) The Summit announcement was on the heels of a €50 million pledge to the Pandemic Fund — a good showing for France. 

Elsewhere the war and relations with China dominated. While the darkness of the ongoing conflict continues to unsettle us all, Biden’s 3-and-a-half-hour sit-down with Xi Jinping signals at least a line of communication that could help international coordination on climate and health issues — and of course, Ukraine. 

What’s ahead?

We now look ahead to the Indian Presidency of the G20 to build on the foundations laid by the Indonesian and Italian Presidencies and use the (welcome) extended mandate of the Finance and Health Task Force to give political leaders clear goals to achieve in 2023. These goals should include leaders working toward the US$10.5 billion the Pandemic Fund needs annually, strengthening health systems across the world, minimizing the chances of disease outbreaks while increasing the chances of swift containment when they do break out — and, of course, ensuring a truly equitable response to future pandemics while avoiding the mistakes of previous approaches.

Our leaders must learn to connect the converging crises and act accordingly — not only tackling the symptoms but the root causes of climate change, pandemics, and conflict before these spiral out of control. 

We look to India leading the G20, and Japan the G7, to work together with the African Union and other regional blocs to make sure as many countries as possible take steps together on these key agendas. We also need our leaders of 2023 to learn lessons from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and not repeat the deep divides of the COVID era that persist today. India is well placed to do that. It’s time for a different approach. With the still active Public Health Emergency of International Concern on monkeypox, Ebola in Uganda, polio showing up in wastewater around the world, and cholera outbreaks on the rise, the era of pandemic threats has never been more upon us or more vital to tackle. There’s no time to lose.

Call for G20 Leaders to Take Pandemic Action

Ahead of this year’s G20 Leaders’ Summit, over 50 global, regional, national, and local organizations are calling on leaders to put forward actions that ensure everyone has the tools to curb COVID-19 and prevent future pandemics. As health crises continue to set development progress back, impact our economies, and undermine the world’s ability to tackle other global challenges, joint and coordinated measures, policies, and investments remain urgent and necessary. 

While Indonesia’s G20 Presidency has advanced key agreements and proposals on PPR — such as the new Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (known as the Pandemic Fund) — there are further opportunities within reach for breaking the cycle of “panic and neglect” on pandemics. The Annual Meetings provide a critical opportunity to reassert leadership, deliver finance at scale, and kick-start the package of measures needed to pandemic-proof our world. 

Specifically, the group of organizations call on G20 Leaders to:

  • Deliver finance at scale for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
    1. Channel US$100 billion in special drawing rights (SDRs) to the IMF’s Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST).
    2. Release a roadmap to unlock new lending from multilateral development banks (MDBs).
  • Invest in pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response — with equity at its heart.
    1. Meet the Pandemic Fund’s US$10.5 billion target and advance a sustainable funding plan.
    2. Fund the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) 2.0, FIND — the global alliance for diagnostics — and public health institutes.
    3. Fund and support the Global Fund, Gavi, and other organizations also crucial to PPR. 
  • Prevent and prepare for the next pandemic by fixing gaps in the system and in policies.
    1. Endorse the creation of a high-level body to tackle global health threats and advance its set up through the UN High-Level Meeting for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response in 2023.
    2. Ensure equitable access to pandemic countermeasures and initiate a process to address this gap now and for the future
    3. Reinforce the importance of a One Health approach.

Outbreaks can be prevented, and new pathogens can be contained — but ongoing pandemics are a political choice. Decisive leadership can deliver a path to health security for people worldwide, where most outbreaks can be prevented, and new pathogens can be contained. We already know the solutions and investments required. Against the consequences and harm of pandemics, their cost is not only modest but is also much less considering the human, economic, and health dividends they reap. 

Read the full letter. If your organization would like to sign the letter to G20 Leaders, please reach out to Aminata

 

Shock and Gloom — But a Window of Political Opportunity?

The World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual Meetings came back in full force and in person Oct. 10-16, with road closures and large black security vehicles once again clogging streets of downtown Washington, D.C. As a veteran of the meetings and a global health and development advocate the week left me in turn feeling depressed, bewildered, and cautiously hopeful.  

Here are my top 5 takeaways:

  • Shock and gloom. The revised projections for global economic growth from the IMF were pretty dire: a sharp slowdown from 6% in 2021 to 3.2% in 2022, and set to decline again in 2023, with inflation rates higher than in several decades and triggering an acute cost-of-living crisis. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva minced no words about the dangers afoot, saying there has been “shock after shock after shock” leading to historic fragility, a likely recession, and expectations of a global output loss of about US$4 trillion (about the size of Germany’s economy) over the next four years. The new edition of the World Bank’s Poverty and Shared Prosperity report found that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, progress toward reducing global poverty has essentially halted and global inequality  increased. The headline on the World Bank’s own website — Development in Crisis — pretty much sums it up.
  • What pandemic? There was much hand wringing on what to do about the worsening poly-crises confronting the world today. Among the headlines were the launch of the IMF’s new Food Shock Window and the World Bank’s Second Ministerial Roundtable on Support for Ukraine, while the discussion at the Development Committee focused around two papers on the Food and Energy Crisis: Weathering the Storm and Achieving the Climate and Development Goals: The Financing Question. Notably absent from the conversations and commitments, however, was the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (and when it did get a mention, it was mostly referred to in the past tense). A few important exceptions were the excellent speeches at the Center for Global Development delivered by three women leaders: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Indonesian Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani, and German Minister for Economic Cooperation Svenja Schulze, all of whom highlighted the need to increase investments in pandemic preparedness. There was also a spotlight on the learning losses as a result of prolonged pandemic-related school closures.
  • Next generation of protests. Two decades ago, protests were a common sight outside the Spring and Annual Meetings, pressing for debt relief and an end to structural adjustment and globalization. In the wake of major policy shifts like the adoption of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, increased disclosure and stronger accountability mechanisms, and the inclusion of civil society in the Meetings which I was proud to help facilitate over time those protests had largely shifted to constructive dialogue. The protesters were back on the streets (and in the building) this year, once again demanding debt cancellation and climate action further fueled by World Bank President David Malpass’ widely criticized comments during the United Nations General Assembly.
  • A few billion here and there. Recent Annual and Spring Meetings had produced some significant commitments to help countries struggling to cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely through a general allocation of special drawing rights (SDRs) equivalent to US$650 billion and creation of a Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST) at the IMF to be funded by channeling SDRs from wealthy countries to low- and lower-middle-income countries. Georgieva announced that the RST was now operational with US$37billion in pledges (of which US$20 billion has been delivered thus far) and that agreements had been reached for the first three countries — Barbados, Costa Rica, and Rwanda — to receive support from the RST. Also in September, the World Bank formally launched a new Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (Pandemic Fund). With less than US$1.5 billion pledged so far and a first call for proposals not slated until late this year or early next, the Pandemic Fund still has a long way to go to reach the annual financing target of more than US$10 billion to close critical preparedness gaps and achieve its transformative potential. We are told more donors and pledges are expected soon, yet discussions on a sustainable financing pathway are some months away. But, on the bright side…
  • Reform is in the air. An undercurrent across the Meetings was that the two Bretton Woods Institutions created in 1944, are no longer fit-for-purpose  in 2022 to address a “world on fire” as the Vulnerable 20 (V-20) group of nations put it at their ministerial. Secretary Yellen set the stage with her pre-Meetings call to action to “rethink our overall development finance strategy” and “evolve our multilateral development bank (MDB) system” to meet this moment of unprecedented global challenges with the highly interconnected threats of climate change, pandemics, and fragility topping the priority list. Variations on this theme were echoed throughout the week by an array of leaders including former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, Schulze, and many others. The wonky-sounding Independent Review of the MDB Capital Adequacy Frameworks, commissioned by the G20, gained support for a set of actionable MDB reforms that could unlock hundreds of billions of dollars in additional capital for global public goods. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley also doubled down on her call to leaders from the global South and North to come together and build a movement around the Bridgetown Agenda to modernize the international financial institutions with “the urgency of now”.   The conversation moved beyond the  rhetoric: A coalition of countries led by Germany G7+ Presidency requested the World Bank management to produce a roadmap for reform by December this year.

Will any of this actually lead to significant change? Time will tell, but something feels different. Pandemic Action Network is committed to heed Prime Minister Mottley’s call to action and help build the political will and the movement to make it happen. One thing we are sure of: From the climate crisis to the COVID-19 crisis to the next pandemic, the world can’t afford to wait.   

 

Pandemic Action Network Statement on the Biden-Harris Administration’s New National Biodefense Strategy

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the U.S. Biden-Harris Administration’s launch of the National Biodefense Strategy and Implementation Plan for Countering Biological Threats, Enhancing Pandemic Preparedness, and Achieving Global Health Security and the signing of National Security Memorandum-15 (NSM-15).

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and Ebola and other deadly infectious disease threats are escalating around the world. The new National Biodefense Strategy rightly sounds the alarm on the urgent need to bolster our national and international defenses against biological threats and accelerate investments in pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response as core priorities for our national security,” said Carolyn Reynolds, co-founder, Pandemic Action Network.  

“As the new strategy affirms, it’s a myth that we can wall off the United States from dangerous biothreats, and it’s time for the U.S. and the world to get serious about treating pandemics as the existential and systemic threat they pose to humanity. By taking a comprehensive, integrated domestic and global approach and laying out specific targets and timelines for implementation, this whole-of-government strategy is an important step forward in that direction. Yet, none of this will be possible without robust, long-term funding to build and maintain our vigilance and readiness. Biodefense must be a bipartisan priority, and Congress must move swiftly to provide the necessary funding to fully implement this strategy.”

What is the Future of the Global Health Security Agenda?

The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) was launched in 2014 to drive multilateral, multi-sector prioritization and coordination of global health security. By definition, GHSA was designed to enhance country capacities to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks; emphasize global health security as a national leader-level priority and galvanize high-level commitments to global health security; promote multi-sectoral engagement and collaboration; and focus on common, measurable targets.

The GHSA is now at an inflection point. While GHSA has built a strong community, the COVID-19 pandemic has also stress-tested domestic and global health systems and raised questions about the reach, relevance, and impact of this partnership. Despite its success as a forum for collaboration and incubator for health security concepts and networks, GHSA has been less visible as part of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, missing an important opportunity to activate its coordination mechanisms to support global policy discussions on the future of the global health security architecture.

As the GHSA 2024 Framework enters its final year in 2023 — and as global leaders advance a range of instruments and mechanisms to make the world safer from emerging pandemic threats — now is the time to reflect on the lessons learned from the GHSA and its role in the evolving global health security architecture. The establishment of the Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (Pandemic Fund) at the World Bank, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on a Pandemic Instrument at the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN General Assembly’s resolution to hold a High-level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response in 2023 all offer new promise to elevate the health security agenda. In light of these developments, GHSA members should reach a clear decision on the future of the partnership by the end of 2022 and ensure that the GHSA both informs, and is informed by, decisions made in these other fora, as part of a more systemic set of reforms to strengthen global health security and governance. 

Developed in partnership with the Global Health Security Agenda Consortium, NTI:bio, and Pandemic Action Network, this paper draws on reflections and feedback from a wide range of stakeholders engaged in global health security to assess the successes, challenges, and constraints of the GHSA’s structure and make recommendations for its future and the future of multi-stakeholder engagement for health security.

Read the full paper

It’s About Time: Pandemic Action Network Statement on Welcoming the UNGA Resolution on a High-Level Meeting for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the resolution adopted by Member States today at the United Nations General Assembly calling for a high-level meeting on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. 

Such a high-level meeting of political leaders is long overdue in the wake of a deadly pandemic that has cost millions of lives and trillions in economic losses and has setback decades of progress in health and societal outcomes. Since its inception in early 2020, Pandemic Action Network has been calling for a high-level UN meeting to address the urgent priorities of pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response at the highest political levels. While sometime before September 2023 is better than nothing, we urge leaders from every nation to prioritize this high-level meeting and make sure it lays the foundations to elevate, accelerate, and sustain efforts to combat pandemic threats at national, regional, and global levels. 

This initial meeting, which should kickstart accountability measures, must be followed with a sustained series of high-level meetings to commit to the actions needed. The creation of a high-level council to tackle global health threats at the heads of state and government levels, inclusive of civil society and the private sector, should be one of the meeting’s primary aims. Such a council is much needed to ensure speedy and coordinated international action and accountability to address both existing and emerging pandemic threats.

As we now navigate this era of pandemics amidst pandemic fatigue, this high-level meeting is more urgent than ever.

Statement on the Introduction of the Senate FY23 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Legislation

Statement by Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Carolyn Reynolds

“The Senate FY23 State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) bill tabled today takes meaningful steps toward urgently needed new investments in global health security, pandemic preparedness, and the global COVID-19 response. Critically, the Senate bill takes action on long overdue emergency funding — US$5 billion — to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The amount remains far short of the global needs, but is a needed investment to help deliver vaccines to the last mile and help countries adapt to the current stage of this persistent pandemic that continues to upend lives and livelihoods around the world. Our Network is pleased to see that the bill’s emergency title makes meaningful down payments of US$950 million in pandemic preparedness priorities, including up to US$550 million for the Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Preparedness at the World Bank (Pandemic Fund). If approved, this would bring total U.S. contributions to the Fund this calendar year to US$1 billion, and set the bar for partner countries to marshal the US$10 billion needed annually to deliver on the promise of this historic Fund.  

While less than the US$1 billion for global health security in President Biden’s budget request or the FY23 House bill, the Senate’s US$745 million allocation for global health security programs also protects meaningful increases in this account from FY22 that will allow USAID and State to expand efforts to help countries build and sustain capacities to detect, prevent, and respond to emerging disease threats before they become emergencies — including through investments in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) and the Pandemic Fund. 

We urge Congress to move past pandemic fatigue and prioritize these investments to help stop the spread of COVID and to make America and the world safer from emerging pandemic threats. The pieces are there — now we need leadership and action.”

Pandemic Action Network Statement on a New World Bank Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response

Statement by Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Carolyn Reynolds on the decision by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors to establish a new Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response: 

“Today’s decision by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors to establish a new global pandemic fund is an important step forward to heed the hard lessons of COVID-19 and make the world safer from pandemics. The fund offers the potential to marshal significant new financing to help prevent such a deadly and costly crisis from happening again. As the fund moves from concept to reality, global leaders should seize this opportunity to ensure it is catalytic, inclusive, and accountable. 

“The COVID crisis has shown us that pandemic prevention and preparedness is in everyone’s interest, and it should be everyone’s business. The US$1.1 billion pledged to the fund thus far is still a fraction of the estimated US$10 billion annually that global health and finance experts agree is urgently needed to bolster the world’s pandemic defenses. We urge more governments, philanthropies, and other funders to seize this moment to pandemic proof our collective future by stepping up and investing in this new fund.” 

Launching a New Pandemic Preparedness Fund: A Crack in the Cycle of Panic and Neglect?

Read the full analysis here on csis.org.

We are in a fragile, yet promising moment when it comes to heeding the lessons of the COVID-19 crisis. But a chance to begin to break the cycle of crisis and complacency and strengthen global security is finally within our reach, with the emergence of an international coalition to increase financing for pandemic preparedness. A new CSIS commentary from Carolyn Reynolds and J. Stephen Morrison discusses how the creation of a new Pandemic Preparedness Fund offers a near-term opportunity to mobilize significant new investments that are unlikely to happen otherwise, by using catalytic grant financing to close critical gaps in preparedness. Pivotal decisions remain to ensure that the fund has clearly defined strategic priorities that advance shared security interests; expands the pool of funding available for pandemic preparedness and response by tapping creative additional sources beyond official development assistance; and is steered by a decisive governing body. Strong U.S. leadership and financial commitment, bridging the U.S. administration and Congress, and resting on a durable bipartisan consensus, will be the single most important factor in moving the fund from its infancy into an instrument with the long-term vision, clear and unique purpose, and legitimacy to deliver rapid and sustainable results. Just as the United States led the world two decades ago to launch PEPFAR and the Global Fund to combat the global AIDS crisis, the United States should now lead and rally the world to launch this new fund and help prevent the next pandemic.

Read the full analysis here on csis.org.

 

Falling Short: Pandemic Action Network Statement on the 2022 G7 Leaders’ Summit

G7 Leaders fell far short of what is needed to finish the job on COVID-19 and prevent the next pandemic. Leaders are facing compounding and intertwined crises, but this is no time to deprioritize health security, which is fundamental to addressing virtually every other crisis facing humanity. This year’s G7 Leaders’ Summit represents a missed opportunity to take decisive action and fundamentally shift the G7’s record on pandemic preparedness and response.   Instead, we saw more of the “same strategy but different day” cycle of rearranging recommendations and commitments.

On finance, G7 Leaders collectively failed to deliver adequate financing to fund the provision of tests and treatments and delivery of vaccines still needed in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). While we are pleased that the U.K. joined other G7 countries by pledging funding for the emerging global Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response fund at the World Bank, we need to hear that founding partners are committed to an inclusive, representative future fund which will include LMICs, communities, and civil society in its governance from the outset as well as equity in its decision-making. Overall, we need to see a commitment to investing in these ongoing priorities by growing the global pool of funding available for pandemic preparedness and response.

On governance, leaders also missed an opportunity to elevate leadership on pandemic preparedness and response by endorsing the creation of a Global Health Threats Council — as proposed by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response — and laying the groundwork for a broader coalition of countries and leaders. A political mechanism of this kind is essential to sustain action and investment across countries and advance ambitious proposals, such as those described in the G7’s Pact for Pandemic Readiness

As the G7 focuses on the world’s stability with commitments on climate and food security, proactively preparing for pandemics must be a part of that mix. These existential threats are interconnected. Accelerating climate change means the world is more likely to experience future outbreaks with more regularity. Whether such outbreaks become pandemics or can be quashed in time hinges on the political choices leaders are making right now. And today, the G7 chose complacency and stagnation over progress when it comes to pandemic preparedness.

We urge the G7 to take forward the Pact for Pandemic Readiness and turn it into action with urgency in the remaining six months of this year and beyond. The COVID crisis has laid bare the costs of inaction. We cannot afford to move on without learning the lessons over the last two years — particularly for the most vulnerable and LMIC populations, many of whom still lack access to lifesaving tests, treatments and vaccines. 

The current and future G7 presidencies of Germany and Japan must prioritize getting bold pandemic preparedness and COVID-19 response action back on track as a key part of addressing the world’s interlocking crises — they simply cannot afford not to. Click To Tweet

What To Know Before the G7 Leaders’ Summit

The G7 Leaders’ Summit is just around the corner, and — as one of the five priorities of the German Presidency — pandemic preparedness and response is expected to have a central role in the meeting. In Germany’s own words, this year’s program aims “to expand the G7’s pioneering role in the commitment to pandemic prevention and control as well as improving the international health architecture.” While this might be a good omen for relevant agreements and commitments, the G7’s record on pandemics is not consistent and makes many of us wary. So, what do we need to know to understand the landscape and ensure this G7 goes beyond a series of photo ops and warm words?

A bit of historical background… Seven years ago, under the German Presidency as well, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa drove forward similar promises to those on the table in 2022. The 2015 Elmau Declaration contained crucial commitments, including support for the “World Bank to develop a Pandemic Emergency Facility” advanced by the G20 and strengthening of a mechanism for rapid response to pandemics. Side note, the 2015 declaration also includes clear language on “finding a solution to the conflict in Ukraine.” Déjà vu, anyone? We know that over the following years, these commitments lost traction and their implementation lagged. The following declarations — 2016 Ise Shima Declaration, 2017 Taormina Declaration, 2018 Charlevoix Declaration, and the 2019 Biarritz Declaration — progressively erased pandemics off the agenda until it made it back in 2020, this time under an unprecedented global crisis.   

So, what tells us that 2022 could be different? Germany’s G7 leadership this year is a reason for optimism. The country has made significant contributions to the ACT-Accelerator, has supported and raised funds for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment mechanism, and also committed financial contributions to CEPI and the forthcoming new Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Fund at the World Bank. Moreover, in preparation for the Summit, Germany has convened high-level officials to discuss pandemics and pave the way for the Leaders’ Summit.

The G7’s preparatory work in May provides some hints and insights about what agreements might be in the making. Here’s a summary of the outcomes and work of the following Ministers’ meetings:

  • Foreign Ministers. They have mainly focused on the G7’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and on addressing gaps in the global vaccination campaign. On May 13, they released an “Action Plan on COVID-19,” which aims to align the group’s response efforts. In its last communiqué, they also noted that they are already working on “planning the ongoing COVID-19 response for 2023” but didn’t share specific details.
  • Health Ministers. Their last communiqué provides an overview of the issues and variables shaping the conversation and shows how the G7 is looking into preventing future pandemics and enhancing the world’s response to pandemic threats. Recently they released a concept note for a “G7 Pact for Pandemic Readiness,” which has a strong emphasis on surveillance. It is unclear though if other essential aspects for pandemic preparedness will also be considered by the group and how.  
  • Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. As they are responsible for aligning commitments and funding, their last communiqué helps to understand what are the competing priorities. They expressed support for the establishment of the new Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Fund, hosted by the World Bank, but they clearly stated that a broader group of countries should contribute financially as well. 
  • Development Ministers. This group has discussed the effects of COVID-19, as shown in their last communiqué, and has worked with Health Ministers to accelerate the G7’s response to ending the pandemic globally — putting emphasis on access to vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics — and increasing countries’ capacities on pandemic preparedness and response. It stands out that their support for expanding access to vaccines, testing, and therapeutics worldwide seems to rely only on voluntary technology transfer and not in more proactive measures. 

What’s missing, and what’s ahead? If after reviewing these different pieces you get a feeling that something is missing, you are not alone. So far, the information proactively disclosed by the German Presidency does not reveal specific actions or preliminary plans. It remains unclear how most of the commitments will be advanced and turn into concrete changes. With the information available up to this point, this next G7 Leaders’ Summit could yield good commitments but the risk of forgetting them in the coming years might be as present as in 2015. As such, the six months following the Leaders’ Summit will be critical to ensuring clear actions and setting the stage for Japan to pick up the G7 leadership baton in 2023.

If you are attending the G7, please let us know! Otherwise, stay in touch on social media.

Seizing the Moment: Global Action to End the COVID-19 Crisis and Prevent the Next Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. The rapid global spread of the omicron variant has transitioned the pandemic to a new phase that requires updating our strategy and priorities to ensure a more effective — and equitable — response.

We are at a pivotal moment: progress on the global response has slowed, and we risk further setbacks due to the convergence of multiple global security crises with pandemic fatigue and complacency. The post-omicron global strategy must evolve, and requires global solidarity, coordination, and commitment to address short- and long-term imperatives.

These imperatives resounded throughout our jointly convened dialogue, Global Call to Action: End the COVID-19 Crisis and Prevent the Next Pandemic, on March 29, 2022. Diverse speakers joined by over 400 participants from around the world collectively identified four priorities set in a declaration to meet global needs at this stage of the pandemic and build stronger, more resilient, and equitable systems for the future: 

  1. Accelerate equitable access to and acceptance of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, building for the future.
  2. Support country-led and community-driven goals and priorities, with global support strengthening national and regional systems and advancing equity.
  3. Build and invest now to pandemic proof the future for everyone, everywhere.
  4. Drive accountability at all levels and commit to global solidarity.

Read the joint declaration by Africa CDC, Amref Health Africa, African Population and Health Research Center, Organismo Andinode Salud, Cayetano Heredia University School of Public Health, Center for Indonesia’s Strategic Development Initiatives, COVID GAP, Pandemic Action Network, ONE Campaign, University of Ibadan College of Medicine, and WACI Health.

También disponible en español.

Activating Young Leaders to End the COVID Crisis and Pandemic Proof Our Future

COVID-19 has profoundly uprooted global norms. While the pandemic affects people across the globe, the impacts are different based on where you live and who you are. For the under-30s of the world, we will be hit hardest by long-term economic, social, and emotional stressors, and we will bear the brunt of the fallout if leaders fail to act on pandemic preparedness. With crises like global conflict, climate change, and potentially another deadly pandemic on the horizon, youth voices must be prioritized in change-making. 

Global leaders should engage and support youth in response to the current crises while advocating for future pandemic preparedness. Around the globe, 40% of 18 to 29 year-olds feel left out of designing or reforming public benefits and services. It is time to make space for new thought leadership, equip youth with the tools to address and mitigate pandemics, and invite them to the decision making tables. The onus is on youth to rebuild a more resilient global paradigm. Here’s how global leaders can support us:

  1. Tailor youth programming
    Use an intergenerational lens with youth-led and -designed programming to engage younger generations in responding to COVID-19 and working to prevent future pandemics. People under 30 account for half of the world’s population, so it’s important to engage with youth perspectives in pandemic programming. Review your organization’s pandemic preparedness and response initiatives to identify where you can incorporate youth voices and leadership to deliver on your goals more effectively.
  2. Step up and share the decision making power
    Two out of three countries do not consult young people as part of national development plans. This is an appeal to established leaders to give precedent for youth counsel. Advocating for the world to take pandemics seriously means providing youth-centered policy development and decision-making opportunities to support transparency, cooperation, and international disease monitoring and response structures. While established leaders must make space for younger leaders, this is also a call for youth to step up to the plate, advocate for pandemic preparedness across platforms, and hold international leaders accountable to their policy commitments. We need your voices to demand that future generations be spared from the impact of pandemic threats!
  3. Capitalize on youth social media savvy for pandemic response and preparedness
    We know that Gen Z is the first fully-global generation connected by digital devices and engaged in social media. But young people are more than just connected: they are savvy and have the potential to use their platforms to advance social good. Think about the K-POP fans who have organized around political activism. Now is the time to use the power and creativity of youth networks and partnerships to creatively break through, combat misinformation, and engage a broader audience on pandemic preparedness and response.
  4. Take action and amplify these youth engagement tools: 
    • Focus your energy on becoming a mentor with Global Health Me to connect with young global health professionals and students for a five-month mentoring opportunity.  

Every revolution in history has been led by young people. –Aya Chebbi

Build the Health Workforce Back Better to Prevent Future Pandemics

Frontline health workers are crucial for pandemic preparedness and response but for too long health workers have largely been taken for granted. The assumption seems to be that they are already ready and able to jump into action, keep health services going, and scale up one or another specific health intervention.

Yet, of all the factors delaying access to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and care, health workforce challenges are the most cited bottleneck, according to a WHO survey of 129 countries. Vaccine delivery has also been delayed by workforce inadequacies.

WHO states that these challenges arise due to “a combination of pre-existing shortages [of health workers] coupled with unavailability due to COVID-19 infections and deaths, mental health issues and burnout and departures from service due to a lack of decent working conditions.”

The factor of gender cannot be ignored. The health workforce is largely female, and it is not a coincidence that remuneration for their labor is often inadequate or inconsistently provided. Only 14% of community health workers in Africa are salaried, with many considered “volunteers,” part of the broader injustice of women’s care labor not being compensated.

COVID-19 has shown this is not just theoretical. Now, and in future pandemics, we need a motivated and supported health workforce to ensure acceptance and delivery of vaccines, disease surveillance, and risk communication.

Join the Frontline Health Workers Coalition and partners for World Health Worker Week on April 4-8 to push donors and governments to do more to protect and support a resilient health workforce.

Here a few ways you can get involved in World Health Worker Week:

 

Photo courtesy of IntraHealth International.

Pandemic R&D Agenda for Action: Fostering Innovation to End This Pandemic and Prepare for the Next One

As the world commences the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the case for investment in research and development (R&D) for medical countermeasures to prevent and combat emerging global health threats is stronger than ever. Despite tremendous scientific accomplishments in 2020-21, systemic gaps in pandemic-related R&D systems, supply chains, manufacturing, and delivery continue to stymie the roll-out of urgently needed technologies to all people who need them, everywhere, and are prolonging the pandemic.

COVID-19 and its variants have exposed longstanding market and systems failures and fragilities that pose barriers to timely and effective pandemic R&D. Not only do these persistent gaps threaten to undo progress achieved through the scientific breakthroughs, but they also exacerbate entrenched inequalities that leave the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people around the globe without access to lifesaving medical countermeasures and essential health services, and perpetuate gross power imbalances between high- and low-income nations. COVID-19 has also unleashed a multitude of actors in pandemic-related R&D across the innovation spectrum and across the globe, underscoring the growing need for more purposeful alignment, coordination, information-sharing, and transparency.

The world urgently needs a fit-for-purpose, proactive, and resilient pandemic R&D ecosystem. There is broad consensus that R&D is a vital component of building a world better equipped to prevent, prepare for, and respond to pandemic threats. Yet new investments in innovation will fail to meet their promise to save lives, prevent future global health emergencies, and build a healthier, safer world for all unless governments, international institutions, and industry are willing to heed the hard lessons of this pandemic and work together to fix these systemic failures and challenges.

Produced by Global Health Technologies Coalition and Pandemic Action Network with contributions by members of the Pandemic Action Network’s Pandemic Preparedness Working Group, this policy brief calls on world leaders to prioritize action in four key areas to close the critical R&D, manufacturing, and delivery gaps necessary to end the acute COVID-19 crisis and build a more resilient, equitable pandemic R&D ecosystem for the future.

Read the full brief here.

The New Year’s Resolution That Matters Most: End the COVID Crisis

As we enter year three of this pandemic, COVID-19 is having a global field day. The virus is taking advantage of our failure as an international community to end this crisis. Cases are once again rising exponentially and hospitals are overflowing. Let us be clear: this is not a health crisis. This is a crisis of leadership and political will.

Yes, world leaders have a lot of competing and compounding crises on their policy plates. Climate change. Addressing inflation, economic instability, and broken supply chains. Cybersecurity. Political instability and conflict. Escalating economic inequality. Raging misinformation and disinformation. The list goes on and on. But as world leaders begin to tackle their own new year’s resolutions, there is one that must rise to the top of their list: End the COVID-19 crisis for everyone, everywhere, once and for all.

It’s tempting given the magnitude of all of these challenges — paired with pandemic fatigue — for political leaders to focus on other issues. That is foolish. There is no pandemic exit strategy for any country without a global strategy. There is no sustained economic recovery without ending this pandemic. There is no prospect of bridging social divides when the pandemic continues to prey on the most vulnerable and marginalized populations. There is no hope of strengthening health systems when we are burning out a generation of health workers. There is no winning when people are dying needlessly every single day.

Every day we let this pandemic continue is a day where we lose the opportunity for meaningful progress on other challenges to humanity.

Here are five things world leaders must-do in 2022 to end the COVID crisis.

1. Make a plan to end this crisis for everyone. It is unfathomable that we still don’t have a global plan of action for this pandemic. We have been calling for this since mid-2020. We call on world leaders to pull together to create a war room, modeled on a Global Health Threats Council suggested by The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and backed by the G20 which needs to be truly global. Leaders should craft a plan, define leadership, and execute the plan.

2. Vaccinate the world. High-income countries are attempting to boost their way out of danger while still hoarding vaccine doses. Meanwhile, only 9.5% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose. And, only one in four healthcare workers in Africa have been fully vaccinated. World leaders: Do whatever it takes to vaccinate the world to 70% by the middle of 2022. Invest in vaccine delivery and education, accelerate promised vaccine dose donations, and swap slots to put low- and middle-income countries at the front of the queue. Publish vaccine contracts, production schedules and pricing to give the public total transparency. “This is within reach, but only if a life in Mumbai matters as much as a life in Brussels, if a life in Sao Paulo matters as much as a life in Geneva, and if a life in Harare matters as much as a life in Washington DC,” said Dr. Ayoade Alakija, WHO Special Envoy for the ACT-Accelerator.

3. Pandemic-proof the planet. Leaders must end this crisis and prevent the next outbreak from turning into a pandemic on a parallel path. We call on world leaders to seize this opportunity to leave a legacy of a healthier and safer world — starting with the establishment and funding of a new global financing mechanism that provides robust and sustained investments in pandemic prevention and preparedness. History has shown that if action is not taken during a crisis, then political will dissipates once the crisis fades from view.

4. Get ahead of the next variant and next disease. What happens when new variants don’t hold up to vaccines or a new disease emerges and we don’t have the research and technology at the ready as we did relative to SARS-CoV-2? We are already experiencing some of this with Omicron — but the next disease could be more deadly. We call on world leaders to make pandemic-related investments a priority now and for the long-term so that every country has a plan, and we can get in front of new variants, diseases, and potential outbreaks. Now is the time to invest in moonshot approaches such as CEPI’s mission to develop pandemic-beating vaccines in 100 days.

5. Elevate pandemic preparedness and response as a leadership priority always. The persistent COVID-19 crisis along with resulting and compounding crises demonstrate that pandemics cut across global economics, personal livelihoods, global security, national security, and individual security. This is a crisis of leadership which demands better and more accountable systems for governing pandemics. It’s time to codify pandemic preparedness and response on leadership agendas at the highest levels. Heed the recommendations of The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and establish a high-level Global Health Threats Council.

The year ahead is a tipping point in this crisis. In the cycle of “panic and neglect,” unbelievably we are teetering on neglect. World leaders have done a lot of things to respond to this crisis — denying it, wishing it away, looking around it, pretending it is over or can be managed within their own borders. Why are leaders unable, or unwilling to make the obvious connections?

World leaders: own this resolution. This year, do whatever it takes to end this crisis — and prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.

Thank You

In this pandemic, when time bends and we forget what day, month, or even year it is, it seems impossible that we are about to enter year three of this devastating global crisis. When this started in early 2020, few of us thought we would still be here after all this time: facing another inequitable pandemic response, the spread of yet another dangerous variant, another surge in cases and deaths, another season of plans on hold, and more uncertainties for the future.

Yet amidst all the darkness, our partnership has been a bright spot. We have joined together in this collective space recognizing that the challenges are too big and too many for any one single stakeholder or sector to tackle alone. Week after week, month after month, together we are continuing to learn, navigate, and — most importantly — act on the twists and turns of this crisis, and hold leaders accountable.

So from our global Pandemic Action Network team
to all of our partners around the world and across sectors, THANK YOU.

Thank you for proactively collaborating to advance critical issues such as vaccine equity, transparency, sustainable financing, governance, and so much more.
Thank you for showing up and rolling up your sleeves to contribute your ideas and energy in our working groups.
Thank you for being generous with your expertise, intelligence, resources, influence, and precious time.

We know that pandemic fatigue has set in and that many organizations and leaders are already turning to other priorities. That makes our collective efforts through this Network even more essential. Our job is to stay in the fight and do whatever it takes to end this crisis around the world and to prevent a deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.

Thank you for staying in the fight with us. And we know it’s critical to make sure we all take a moment to rest and recharge to prepare for the next round. So here’s wishing you and yours a safe, healthy, and joyous holiday season and new year. We look forward to our continued journey together next year, and working to do whatever it takes to end this crisis and prevent the next.

Together, let’s make 2022 the year that we can finally turn the corner on this crisis and lay the foundation for a healthier, safer world.

New Study and Documentary Reveal Grim Pandemic Realities for America’s Doctors and Nurses

Frontline workers say they need more preparation, staff, and PPE and better information and diagnostics

November 18, 2021, Seattle, WA—Today, the Pandemic Action Network released new research findings revealing challenges that continue to burden doctors and nurses in the U.S. well over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and pointing to what is required to be better prepared for this crisis and future pandemic threats. Notably, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) continues to be a problem — with nearly a third of doctors and nurses saying they did not have sufficient access to PPE, even as recently as summer 2021. Sixty-one percent felt that they did not have sufficient early warning to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite best efforts, a third felt it was challenging to follow changing workflows and protocols.

The study, funded by Flu Lab, included a survey conducted by Klick Consulting of 532 doctors and nurses from across the U.S. The survey focused on addressing perceptions of pandemic readiness, knowledge, containment, treatment, and vaccination. Additional qualitative interviews with nearly four dozen health officials, public health workers, doctors, and nurses, revealed a stark reality: while healthcare workers are committed to caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have faced increased personal risks and an exceptionally high work volume. And they need more support.

Dr. Carrie Tibbles, an ER physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, participated in this research. “Healthcare systems are really stressed right now, and the workforce is tired. Hospitals need support to build back up — and build our workforce back up — so we can take care of our communities,” said Dr. Tibbles. “The pandemic hit us so hard and in Boston, we felt the first wave shortly after New York. We were able to learn in real time from our friends and colleagues in New York and I’m confident we saved many lives as a result. But if we were armed with the tools to be better prepared for pandemics, I know we could do more.”

These stories further come to life in the new documentary, The First Wave, premiering today in New York at the DOC NYC festival and showing in select theaters tomorrow. The film focuses on the doctors, nurses, and patients from one of New York’s hardest-hit hospital systems during the “first wave” from March to June 2020. By laying bare what healthcare workers braved in hospitals flooded with COVID patients, The First Wave honors both their ongoing commitment to their patients, as well as their own personal sacrifice.

“The study results and the harrowing realities presented in The First Wave make one thing clear: we need to listen to doctors and nurses,” said Gabrielle Fitzgerald, co-founder of Pandemic Action Network. “Hailing health workers as heroes is insufficient — we must ensure they have the information and equipment to do their jobs effectively — before, during, and after a crisis.”

Survey participants expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share their perspectives. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my pandemic experience and opinions… It is a rarity that we are asked about our experience,” said one participant. Another shared, “Thanks for working to improve our processes and systems for the next time this happens (hopefully never).”

“Healthcare workers around the country have been stretched to their breaking points countless times over the course of the pandemic. As a group, we have been labeled heroes, but healthcare workers are only human, and resilience is waning in the face of exhaustion and burnout,” said Dr. Kelly C. Sanders, a pediatrician and Pandemic Action Network member. Dr. Sanders also serves as the technical lead for the Pandemic Response Initiative at UCSF and co-authored a case study on the first year of the pandemic in the U.S. “As a country, if we don’t continue to improve frontline conditions, we risk losing desperately needed healthcare workers. We need to improve local vaccination rates, develop new diagnostic and treatment options, and provide more resources for our stressed public health and hospital systems. This is how the American public and decision-makers can show up for the frontline now.”

To respond to the findings of this study, Pandemic Action Network is calling on U.S. policymakers to:

  • Fully resource and accelerate the global COVID-19 response by allocating at least US$17 billion of new funding to assist the world in reaching 70 percent vaccine coverage in every country by the middle of 2022; save lives now through increased access to other lifesaving tools; and prevent future pandemics from occurring. Learn more.
  • Provide ongoing funding for surge capacity and measures that prioritize the safety and security of healthcare workers.
  • Approve the International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response Act, in tandem with the Global Health Security Act to strengthen America’s cross-government coordination on pandemic preparedness and response and bolster our support for global preparedness.
  • Approve legislation to strengthen America’s Strategic National Stockpile to ensure adequate PPE and medical supplies for healthcare workers.
  • Approve the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals.
  • Approve a resolution that would designate the first Monday in March as “COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day” to memorialize those lost to the COVID-19 virus and recognize the suffering of COVID-19 survivors.

More details of the research and survey results can be found here.

About Pandemic Action Network

Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to end the COVID-19 crisis and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network is a robust partnership of over 140 global multi-sector organizations aligned in a belief that every effort made in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a long-term legacy. One where humanity is better prepared to deal with outbreaks and prevent a deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.

About Klick Consulting
Klick Consulting solves the problems others can’t by leveraging applied sciences and novel thinking to decode healthcare’s gnarliest challenges. The consultancy embraces science at the speed of business with a specific focus on commercial solutions with real-world applications. With its diverse team of medical, behavioral science, data science, engineering, business model, machine learning, and strategic design experts, the multidisciplinary, collaborative group resolves business problems through a scientific lens. Klick Consulting works with companies across the healthcare spectrum, including consumer wellness, pharmaceutical, device manufacturers, insurers, health systems, and providers.

CONTACT:
Courtney Morris (U.S. west coast)
[email protected]

Jaryd Leady (U.S. east coast)
[email protected]

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Announcing the Pandemic Action Network Ambassadors Program

We all feel it — the widespread desire and urgency to move on from the pandemic that has engulfed our lives for nearly the past two years. But we will only move on when the work is done and the work is far from over. COVID-19 continues to rage around the world and leaders have yet to take the bold actions needed to ensure we are better prepared and protected from future pandemic threats. In the cycle of “panic and neglect,” — defined by initial response to the crisis, but failing to act on long-term lessons and actually change the contributing factors of the crisis — we are teetering on neglect.

Pandemic Action Network was built to ensure that we not only end this crisis for everyone around the world, but to prevent the old cycle of “panic and neglect” from happening again. To achieve these goals, our partnership of over 140 diverse organizations is working to create the ongoing political will needed for action.

Numbers and research insights are helpful, but alone they are not enough to drive leaders to do what must be done to end this crisis and prevent the next pandemic. Leaders need personal reasons to act — they need to hear the personal stories, experiences, and challenges of the ongoing realities of living through this pandemic because, while many want to look at COVID in the rear-view mirror, we know that this crisis is far from over and will persist without action.

That’s why we are launching our new Pandemic Action Network Ambassadors Program.

Pandemic Action Ambassadors come in many forms — those who worked on the frontlines, parents balancing child care alongside their day job, people who have lost loved ones, people who have lost livelihoods, and those who have seen the impact of political inaction. Pandemic Action Ambassadors are people who care, people who are willing to stand up and speak up about the urgency of ending this crisis, building systems at every level to prepare humanity for future health threats, and learning the lessons of this pandemic.

We invite these people to come together and share their personal experiences to help us advance COVID-19 response and pandemic preparedness. Along with a community of other Ambassadors, you will receive monthly emails with small but impactful ways to take action, the opportunity to connect with one another and engage in critical advocacy efforts. The priority application window is open through Tuesday, November 30 at 11:59pm ET. Apply now!

Your story and your voice are key to driving the progress we so desperately need. Together, we have the power to end this crisis and prevent the next pandemic.

Calling on U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Foreign Ministers to take Concrete Action on COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness

In an open letter, Pandemic Action Network and nearly 40 international partners call on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and fellow Foreign Ministers participating in the Nov. 10 Ministerial Meeting to make specific, time-bound commitments and take concrete steps to end the COVID-19 crisis and build back better from this pandemic.

With a focus on the need for a clear roadmap of concrete actions, timelines, and accountability to accelerate progress toward the global targets of vaccinating 70% of the population in every country by mid-2022, expanded delivery of other lifesaving response needs, and strengthened pandemic finance and governance, the letter specifically calls for ministers to:

  1. Divert COVID-19 vaccine production and delivery at scale with full transparency in 2021
  2. Commit to fully finance the global COVID-19 response and to prepare for future pandemic threats
  3. Ramp up and increase transparency of global supply and delivery of vaccines, tests, treatments, oxygen, PPE, and other COVID-19 tools, and strengthen supply chains and pharmacovigilance
  4. Prioritize strengthening country-level distribution and delivery capabilities in a manner that addresses current needs and future health system resilience
  5. Unlock special drawing rights (SDRs) for the global response & recovery
  6. Increase transparency and tracking from inputs to outcomes

The world cannot wait any longer for action to end this pandemic and help prevent the next one. Read the full letter.

Exclusion of Pandemic Financing in the Build Back Better Act Statement from the Global Health Council’s Global Health Security Roundtable Co-Chairs

“We are disheartened that, in the middle of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one of the compromises made in the agreement on the Build Back Better Act was to cut out financing for future pandemic preparedness. While we welcome the needed US$1.3 billion to support expanded global vaccine production capacity and research on infectious diseases, the bill leaves out critical elements of President Biden’s American Pandemic Preparedness Plan, including the US$600 million requested to stand up a new multilateral fund to bolster global preparedness for future pandemics.

We represent dozens of organizations who have been calling for U.S. global leadership to establish such a fund to address pandemic threats. Establishing this fund is a long overdue step  toward addressing the years of chronic underinvestment that left America and the world vulnerable to COVID-19. There is strong bipartisan support for the fund from both the House and the Senate and from leading global finance and health experts, who have urged that the fund be set up swiftly and capitalized at US$10 billion per year over the next five years. While the US$600 million U.S. contribution to the fund that was included in the Biden Administration’s Pandemic Preparedness Plan represents only a fraction of the global need, it is an urgent first step toward helping prevent another devastating pandemic from happening again.

Omitting this critical funding from the bill will signal a return to complacency in the face of one of the most looming threats to our national and global security. And it will signal to other countries that President Biden’s signature initiative to establish a new fund to fight pandemics  — which he touted to world leaders at the Global COVID-19 Summit just one month ago as a key piece of his plan to Build Back Better — is not backed by any serious financial commitment or urgency from the United States. The White House and Congress should urgently agree to ensure the US$600 million for the multilateral fund is included in the Act before final passage and then urge other countries to join the U.S. and contribute their fair share.”

Bridging the Innovation Gap to Prevent the Next Pandemic — Policy Brief

The world was woefully unprepared to prevent or rapidly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the result of decades of failure by national and global policymakers to address pandemics as a systemic and growing threat. A glaring weakness is that the ecosystem for pandemic preparedness research and development (R&D) — the system that is meant to develop vaccines, treatments, and other tools for known and unknown health threats — is rife with market and systems failures that prevent it from operating efficiently, effectively, and equitably.

While pandemics can affect the whole world and create large, global markets for vaccines, treatments, and other technologies, those markets have repeatedly failed to respond with the foresight and urgency needed to match the scale, scope, and unpredictability of pandemic threats. The world must urgently address the persistent market and systems failures in the global health R&D ecosystem to prepare for the next pandemic threat.

This policy brief, prepared by Pandemic Action Network, covers the market and systems failures in the pandemic preparedness R&D ecosystem and lays out the unique role that the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) plays in leveraging partnerships and incentives to counter the failures as one key step in building a smarter, more effective and equitable pandemic R&D ecosystem.

Read the policy brief here and the full analysis here.

A 100-Day Proposal for Reviewing, Designing and Launching the Establishment of a Financial Intermediary Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness

This is a non-paper intended to transparently share information and steps toward establishing a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness. It was developed through a consultative process and does not represent official positions of the governments involved. Rather, it is intended to provide an action plan to begin taking the steps toward launching the establishment of a Financial Intermediary Fund in 2021, including as outlined in expert reports and as recently called for by some leaders during the September 22, 2021 Global COVID-19 Summit. To bolster additional discussion, this document was prepared by the United States and Norway in consultation with an initial group (dubbed “Action Team”) comprised of interested countries, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, and expert stakeholders.

COVID-19 has underscored the need for urgent collective action to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to pandemics. There is unequivocal consensus that mobilizing additional, predictable, and sustainable financing is critical for more effective and equitable pandemic preparedness and response and to achieve global health security.

This document outlines a time-bound plan for reviewing, designing, and establishing a new multilateral Financial Intermediary Fund for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness, with the World Bank as trustee. Read the draft non-paper for consultation here.

Addressing Market Failures: The Role of CEPI in Bridging the Innovation Gap to Prevent the Next Pandemic

The global response to COVID-19 not only shows that the world was ill-prepared to prevent and respond to a pandemic caused by a novel respiratory pathogen, but also that there are an array of system and market failures in global health research and development (R&D). Solving for these failures ― and building a ready and sustainable R&D ecosystem for pandemic preparedness ― will be critical to advancing global health security and preventing future infectious disease outbreaks from becoming the next deadly and costly pandemic.

Addressing Market Failures: The Role of CEPI in Bridging the Innovation Gap to Prevent the Next Pandemic, produced by Volta Capital, Pandemic Action Network, and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC), examines global health R&D failures to help inform policy and funding decisions to bolster preparedness and response for emerging pandemic threats. In particular, the paper considers the unique role of CEPI in addressing some of these failures, its strengths and challenges in the COVID-19 response, and the role it can play through its new strategy to bolster future epidemic and pandemic preparedness.

Key findings of the paper include:

  • Longstanding and persistent market and systems failures in global health R&D, especially for vaccines against novel pathogens, have left the world at grave risk of deadly and costly pandemics.
  • The world cannot wait for the next pandemic to bolster investments in R&D and preparedness for emerging infectious disease threats.
  • CEPI has a key role to play in a better prepared global R&D ecosystem.

To learn more, read the full analysis Addressing Market Failures: The Role of CEPI in Bridging the Innovation Gap to Prevent the Next Pandemic and the accompanying policy brief.

Share the key messages using our social media toolkit.

G20 health Ministers’ Meeting — What Happened? What’s Next?

DESPITE PROMISING STATEMENTS OF COOPERATION, VERY LITTLE WAS AGREED UPON DURING THE G20 HEALTH MINISTERS’ MEETING AND WHAT COMES NEXT TO TURN COMMITMENTS INTO ACTION REMAINS UNCLEAR. 

In advance of the two-day gathering of Health Ministers from the Group of Twenty (G20) in Rome, Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza, holding the G20 presidency this year, said the event was an occasion to strengthen international relations and work for fairer COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

While the G20 Health Ministers’ declaration contains encouraging messages of strong multilateral cooperation to end the pandemic and enhance timely, equitable, and global access to safe, affordable, and effective COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, very little was agreed in terms of concrete steps needed to turn these promises into a reality.

Here are some of our main take-aways:

“Pact” on achieving vaccine equity

Countries committed themselves in the so-called “Rome Pact” to providing the entire world population with access to COVID-19 vaccines. Speaking after the meeting, Italian Health Minister Speranza told journalists, “if we leave part of the world without vaccines, we risk new variants which will hurt all of us.” He promised that efforts would be strengthened bilaterally and through international platforms starting from COVAX.

We welcome the Ministers’ commitment to continue their efforts to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) goal to vaccinate at least 40% of the world’s population by the end of 2021 and continue to support collaborative initiatives, such as the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and COVAX as well as important global research and innovation initiatives as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). We still have a long way to go — the WHO Director-General has said that while 5 billion vaccines have been administered worldwide, almost 75 percent of these doses have been administered in just 10 countries.

Most high-income countries have bought significantly more doses than needed to cover domestic vaccination needs. We need these countries to donate at least 1 billion vaccine doses as soon as possible, and 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, if this goal is to be achieved. We welcome Germany’s announcement on the sidelines of the meeting to make 100 million vaccine doses available for the international inoculation campaign before the end of the year, and call on others to swiftly follow suit.

Financing for pandemic preparedness and response

According to the Health Ministers’ declaration, proposals on sustainable financing to strengthen future pandemic preparedness and response are being drafted to be presented at the G20 Joint Finance and Health Ministers’ meeting in October. Immediate and multi-year funding commitments for the pandemic response in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) must match the scope and urgency of the need. We must urgently establish a financing mechanism to channel and direct the additional funding required for the current pandemic response to where it is most needed, and to jumpstart funding for preparedness for emerging pandemic threats. Read more on the call for a new global financing mechanism that provides robust and sustained investments in pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response in this policy brief.

One Health approach

On a positive note, there was agreement on adopting a ‘One Health’ approach in responding to future health emergencies, i.e., recognizing that human, animal, and environmental health are interlinked and determinant of our wellbeing. According to the Ministers’ declaration, the WHO, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) are to work on a joint work plan on ‘One Health’ to improve prevention, monitoring, detection, control, and containment of zoonotic disease outbreaks.

Vaccine education

There is an abundance of great research, information, and approaches to vaccine education, yet efforts to address vaccine hesitancy and build vaccine confidence can be fragmented and siloed. Catalyzing vaccine confidence requires action across the world by diverse stakeholders, active inclusion, and feedback loops with local implementers. Therefore we welcome the ministerial declaration’s emphasis on the need to promote vaccine confidence “by implementing the most effective, culturally appropriate, and science-based public communication and listening strategies tailored to the context of communities at the local level, to combating misinformation and disinformation, and instilling trust in public institutions and experts.”

Implications for the G20 Leaders’ Summit

The G20 Health Ministers’ meeting was one of the last G20 ministerial gatherings before the Leaders’ Summit in Rome on 30 and 31 October. We urgently need strengthened global leadership and accountability; and expect the next joint Health and Finance ministerial and the G20 Leaders’ Summit at the end of October to produce solid commitments on the following issues:

  1. Building strong political leadership for the global COVID-19 response by setting out a fully-costed Global COVID-19 Response Roadmap with specific time-bound commitments to help drive us to the end of the pandemic — full details are defined in our Framework for a Global Action Plan for COVID-19 Response;
  2. Sharing doses at scale and donating entire production slots where feasible, to accelerate global immunity, starting with the donation of excess doses as soon as possible;
  3. Delivering meaningful finance at scale to tackle the global pandemic, including looking to free up as much as possible of the IMF’s US$650B in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to low-income countries and to contribute to funding the global COVID-19 response.

We wholeheartedly agree with Minister Speranza when he calls the vaccine a ‘key to freedom’. But we urgently need leaders to focus on ensuring that this ‘key’ is accessible to everyone, not only those in G20 countries.

Calling for a New Multilateral Financing Mechanism for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness

People and countries around the world continue to suffer from the devastating human, economic, and social costs of being unprepared for a deadly pandemic like COVID-19. This crisis is a call-to-action. World leaders must seize this opportunity to leave a legacy of a healthier and safer world — starting with a new global financing mechanism that provides robust and sustained investments in pandemic prevention and preparedness. At the 2021 United Nations General Assembly, world leaders should launch a 100-day action plan to establish and resource a new financing mechanism, or Fund, that can mobilize at least US$10 billion annually over the next five years to bolster global health security and pandemic preparedness. History has shown time and again that if action is not taken during a crisis, then political will dissipates once the crisis fades from view. An expedited timeline for establishing the Fund will provide a critical new tool for the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts and create continuity between the pandemic response and recovery activities while bridging to escalated and sustained efforts on pandemic preparedness.  This policy brief, prepared by contributors from the Center for Global Development, Pandemic Action Network, and Nuclear Threat Initiative, is intended to inform and guide ongoing conversations among governments and non-governmental stakeholders on the parameters and design of the new Fund and action plan. Read the policy brief here.
This policy brief, prepared by contributors from the Center for Global Development, Pandemic Action Network, and Nuclear Threat Initiative, is intended to inform and guide ongoing conversations among governments and non-governmental stakeholders on the parameters and design of the new Fund and action plan.

UN General Assembly Called Upon to Lead Global Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness

Civil society leaders urge UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir to use the informal plenary on July 28 to formally start the process for a UN High-Level Summit on Global Health Security and Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness during the 76th session of the General Assembly.

Your Excellency,  

On behalf of the Pandemic Action Network and our partners around the world, we welcome the announcement of an informal plenary of the General Assembly on 28 July to discuss what the world needs to do to prevent and prepare for future pandemics, informed by the findings and recommendations of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) and other review efforts. The devastating health, economic, and social impacts of this deadly, costly, and protracted global crisis underscore that it is well past time for the community of nations to prioritize and prepare for pandemics as the existential, catastrophic, and growing global security  threats they are. We urge you to ensure that the outcome of this plenary is a commitment to a concrete, time-bound political process for international action on pandemic prevention and preparedness. 

Specifically, we urge you to use the 28 July 2021 informal meeting to kick off a formal process and set a date during the 76th session of the General Assembly — ideally within the first six months or no later than September 2022 — for a UN High-Level Summit on Global Health Security and Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness at the Heads of State or Government level. The Summit should agree to a Political Declaration or similar, which outlines a set of concrete solutions, backed by the requisite financing, institutional, and policy reforms, and member state commitments, that will ensure an international system better prepared to detect, prevent, and respond to pandemic threats. Given the whole of society nature of  pandemics, it will be essential that the Summit fully and actively engage leaders of multilateral institutions, civil society organizations, private sector, foundations, academic, and research institutions alongside government leaders. 

The proposals from the IPPPR, the G20 High-Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (G20), the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), our Network, and others have been based on robust evidence, deep consultation, thorough analysis, and active debate before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a striking convergence of recommendations around the global financing, governance, and accountability reforms that are urgently needed; what has been sorely lacking is political will to act.  

While accelerating the global COVID-19 response remains the most urgent priority, we cannot afford to wait until this pandemic is over to begin to bolster our collective defenses against emerging pandemic threats. Now is the time to lay the foundation for a resilient international system that can act quickly and equitably to prevent a health emergency of this scale from occurring in the future. Too often, political will for system change recedes as a crisis wanes. World leaders must seize this opportunity to commit to pandemic-proof the future and leave a legacy of a healthier and safer world. 

Pandemic Action Network and our partners stand ready to work with you to support this process. Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter, and we look forward to your reply.  

Sincerely, 

Carolyn Reynolds 
Co-founder
Pandemic Action Network  

On behalf of:

 

If your organization would like to sign on, please email Hanna Hwang

Your Pandemic Story Matters — Apply for a Pandemic Storytelling Workshop with The Moth

We’ve learned many things during the pandemic, but one is the importance of storytelling and consistent messaging. A compelling story can move people to action, while disinformation can put people’s lives at risk. This means that honing our individual ability to deliver a message can actually help end this pandemic and better prepare for, or even prevent, the next.

But, are we equipped to tell stories that will move decisionmakers to action? As policymakers and advocates respond and analyze the impact of the pandemic, we often talk about big metrics — GDP and job loss numbers — but those analyses fail to account for the individual, social, and economic impact of this global crisis.

Now is the time to sharpen our storytelling skills and amplify community-level experiences and lessons learned. The Moth, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pandemic Action Network, are holding three free-of-charge virtual storytelling workshops to amplify community-level stories from the pandemic’s frontlines. 

If you have a passion for storytelling that can make a difference and a frontline experience from the COVID-19 pandemic, we invite you to learn more and apply.

Please note that the deadline application has passed. To stay in the loop for more opportunities this like this, sign up for our Pandemic Action Playbook. 

G20 Finance Ministers Urged to Fill the Huge Gaps Left by the G7 on Finance and Vaccines

Dear G20 Finance Ministers,

The G7 collectively, and most countries individually, have so far failed to absorb the necessity of collective global action and investment. We cannot afford to continue with the piecemeal approach that has characterized the global response until now. We are therefore writing to you in advance of your G20 Finance Ministerial meeting so that by 9-10 July you can take actions that will: fill the gaps left by the G7 on urgent dose-sharing, increase transparency to facilitate efficient tracking and accountability in this crisis, and come up with credible financing to back the emerging plan from Kristalina Georgieva to vaccinate the world.

Firstly, on dose sharing, the G7 pledge to share 870 million doses over the next year is far from the quantity requested by the WHO and lacks solidarity given the third wave that is building momentum in many under-vaccinated regions. Dose-sharing is urgently needed, not as a long-term solution, but to plug the immediate vaccine supply gap in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We need G20 countries to fill COVAX’s gap for this summer. The majority of the dose-sharing announced at the G7 Summit will not be delivered till well into 2022. Therefore, we call on you not to let the meeting finish before the G20 have collectively found the doses needed to fill COVAX’s supply shortage — 275 million doses for June alone — and we are reiterating the call for 1 billion doses to be shared by the end of August 2021.

Secondly, we need bolder agreements for the medium term and absolute transparency on vaccine supply. In order to shine a light on what is going wrong in vaccine supply and create better understanding of the system, as well as sharing doses now to fill the COVAX supply gap, we also ask that you:

– plan to share at least 1 billion doses by the end of August and at least 2 billion doses by the end of the year, which must be counted as an addition to current ODA levels and global development priorities;

– clearly commit to share all of your excess doses by Q1 2022; and,

– publish a detailed month-by-month timeline to the end of 2022 of doses promised and doses actually delivered and publish the prices the G20 and COVAX have paid for doses.

We know that G7 countries alone have bought three billion more doses than they need to fully vaccinate their entire population to 70%, but the G7 pledge provided only enough doses to vaccinate 10.3% of the population in LMICs. Since we sent these letters to each of you individually, head of the WTO Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called for the G20 to give 3bn doses when they meet – this is exactly the kind of ambition and action we need right now to get this response on track.

Thirdly, it is vital that Finance Ministers commit to backing a fully-costed, coordinated, and comprehensive Global Roadmap to Vaccinate the World covering end-to-end finance for vaccines, tests, treatments and PPE, dose donations, and tech and patent policies. Kristalina Georgieva has committed to developing a roadmap — we want to see the G20 Finance Ministers commit to financing such a roadmap. Latest estimates anticipate that it will cost at least US$50-66B simply to provide doses to vaccinate the world. We want a comprehensive plan that covers tests, treatments, PPE, and vaccines — as well as covering end-to-end delivery costs so that vaccines and other COVID-19 tools are not left on the tarmac and can be delivered. This will require innovative solutions using Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) in the medium term but also scaling grant funding now. We welcome the G7’s recent commitment to reallocate their new SDRs to the poorest and most vulnerable countries struggling to tackle COVID-19, health systems, hunger, education, and economic fallout of the pandemic. We now urge the G20 to reallocate most, if not all, of their new SDRs to vulnerable countries by the end of the year, to support health and climate in particular, and an equitable and green recovery, and ask that countries publicly share how much they will contribute to this goal.

We can no longer afford to wait to take concrete action to end COVID-19, and we hope the G20 can deliver the leadership the world needs. We are counting on you to take immediate action to fill the vaccine gap now and to fund the plan to vaccinate the world.

Vaccine policy is economic policy, and until countries are vaccinated to at least 70%, all other COVID-19 tools — tests, treatments, PPE, and the ability to deliver all tools — are an integral part of the vaccination strategy. We are counting on you to fill the dose gap, deliver the COVID-19 tools we need, and find the funding so we can stop the spread and save lives. We are counting on you and your fellow Ministers to take the urgent steps needed now to help protect us all. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you in the coming days, at your convenience.

Many thanks for your urgent attention to these matters, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Your sincerely,


PATH
 
 

Statement on the Introduction of New U.S. Senate Legislation on International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the bipartisan introduction of the International Pandemic Preparedness and COVID-19 Response Act of 2021 (S. 2297) in the U.S. Senate. This bill represents a critical coming together across party lines to step up U.S. global leadership both on the global COVID-19 response and on preparedness to create a world that is better equipped to detect, prevent, and respond to emerging pandemic threats.

“Pandemic Action Network and our more than 120 partners in the United States and around the globe applaud the bipartisan leadership of Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Menendez and Ranking Member Risch to introduce this urgently needed legislation to bolster U.S. global leadership in the COVID-19 response and to help ensure that the world is better organized, better resourced, and better prepared to halt future pandemics,” said Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network. “America will not be safe from COVID-19 or the next deadly and costly global health threat until everyone around the world is safe ― and the next pandemic will not wait. The Menendez-Risch bill rightly sets pandemic preparedness as a top priority for our national and global security.”

As introduced, S.2297 would strengthen the U.S response to the global COVID-19 pandemic to bring an end to this global health and economic crisis. The legislation heeds Pandemic Action Network’s call for a global vaccine roadmap and requires a detailed strategy to accelerate global vaccine distribution for countries most in need. The bill also directs the Biden Administration to work with international partners to establish a new Fund for Global Health Security, which will significantly bolster public and private investments to help low-and-middle-income countries close critical gaps in pandemic prevention, detection, and response. The Fund embraces the calls by the Pandemic Action Network for the establishment of a new, enduring, and catalytic international financing mechanism, and the Network is pleased to see strong alignment to prioritize pandemic financing across the Administration, U.S. House of Representatives, the G20, and now the U.S. Senate bill. The Network is also pleased that the bill seeks to elevate leadership and coordination for international pandemic preparedness activities within the U.S. Government and authorizes U.S. participation in, and funding for, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global initiative to develop new vaccines for epidemic and pandemic threats, including COVID-19 variants.

“This new Senate legislation is an important step to address the longstanding underinvestment in public health systems and pandemic preparedness that allowed COVID-19 to spiral into a global crisis that continues to devastate people around the world,” Reynolds said. “Congress and the Executive Branch must act without delay to ramp up investments to strengthen the  national and global defenses necessary to pandemic proof the planet, commensurate with this growing threat. We have no time to waste.”

 

Seizing the “Chernobyl Moment”: Actioning the Independent Panel’s Report Over the Next 100 Days to Make This the Last Pandemic

Last week’s release of the report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response’s (Independent Panel): COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic comes at arguably one of the most complex and challenging times in the global COVID-19 crisis.

Just as many states and businesses across the U.S. quickly lifted mask-wearing restrictions in response to new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and countries across the world lifted restrictions, the world continues to see record numbers of new COVID-19 cases. World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros warned of the grave emergency in India and the worsening situation in countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt that are dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalizations. Nearly 18 months since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus was first reported, the global inequities in the response are sharper than ever. Only 0.3% of COVID-19 vaccine supply is going to low-income countries, and the world still lacks the necessary life-saving supplies and systems necessary to contain, let alone end, this pandemic.

It is amidst this backdrop that the Independent Panel is sounding the alarm for world leaders to take urgent action, both to ratchet up the global COVID-19 response as well as to make the significant changes to the international system necessary to bolster global preparedness for future pandemic threats. While we think the Independent’s Panel’s recommendations could have been much more ambitious in certain areas, if enacted they would constitute a major step change in how pandemics are treated by governments as an existential global security threat.  The Independent Panel calls COVID-19 a “Chernobyl moment” for pandemic preparedness: the catastrophe that should trigger the kinds of international policies, systemic reforms, safeguards, and accountability for addressing pandemics that Chernobyl triggered for nuclear threats.

IF ENACTED. This is the key point. We have seen this story play out before — the cycle of panic and neglect characterized by a deadly disease outbreak, followed by urgent crisis response, systemic review, reports, and recommendations that leaders fail to implement. Over the next 100 days, in advance of the next UN General Assembly, we must begin to break this deadly cycle once and for all.       

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“Everything that has been accomplished by this commission is really a prelude. It’s the overture to the opera that we have not yet heard. We don’t really know yet how well these tasks will be taken up and these recommendations acted upon … It’s been shown over time that it’s not enough to lay out what the world should do. It’s going to require continued promotion, advocacy, and monitoring.”
Harvey Fineberg, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
________________________

In April, Pandemic Action Network’s 100+ partners developed our 2021 Action Agenda to urge world leaders to take action to bolster the global COVID-19 response, hasten an end to this global crisis, and lay the groundwork for a more pandemic-proof world. Last week, we gathered global experts for an examination of the Independent Panel’s findings (view here, passcode: &DuB+G9^) and the verdict was clear: We must lay out the path and the timeline and take immediate action to carry these recommendations forward. Now, on the heels of the Independent Panel’s Report, we call on world leaders to take the following actions within the next 100 days to help end this pandemic and prevent the next.

1. Agree on the plan and secure the resources necessary for the global COVID-19 response and reach at least 70 percent vaccine coverage as quickly as possible.

While global action lags and virus variants continue to spread, the devastating human, social, and economic consequences of the pandemic will only continue to worsen and prolong our ability to reach global herd immunity and bring an end to the acute crisis.

The Independent Panel report urges countries that have bought more vaccines than they need to begin sharing doses immediately through the COVAX facility — with the goal of 1 billion doses by September and 2 billion by mid-2022. We believe we must go further and faster. We urge world leaders to apply the same ingenuity, political will, and public-private partnerships that brought us these novel vaccines in record time to speed up both the global production and the delivery of vaccines — and reach the goal of 2 billion vaccines shared through COVAX to people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) before the end of this calendar year.

World leaders also should adopt, rigorously cost, and fund a global vaccine roadmap to reach at least 70% vaccine coverage around the world as soon as possible. Recent cost estimates vary widely, from at least $60 billion to an estimate of $190 billion for the costs of delivery to the last mile — and the real costs are likely to be much higher. Given the lack of previous investments in preparedness, the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on already under-resourced health systems, and the continuing global shortages of oxygen, personal protective equipment, diagnostics, therapeutics and other life-saving supplies, a full costing of the global COVID-19 response is likely to be much higher. But even a doubling the higher-end estimates would still be a fraction of what governments have spent so far on response and stimulus measures or the projected $22 trillion in losses to the global economy from the pandemic over the next five years.

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“The world must step up in its ambition and its collective efforts to solve the crisis as soon as possible. It’s unfortunate that 18 months after the start of this pandemic the Panel still felt the need to call for the global roadmap to end this pandemic.”
Muhammad Pate, Global Director, Health, Nutrition, and Population, World Bank,
and Director, Global Financing Facility
________________________

2. Build and commit the resources to launch a new and enduring multilateral financing mechanism for pandemic preparedness.  

The Independent Panel’s recommendation to create an International Pandemic Financing Facility embraces earlier calls by the Pandemic Action Network and others for a new multilateral funding mechanism to bolster pandemic preparedness. The Panel’s proposed facility would mobilize an additional US$5-10 billion annually over the next 10-15 years for pandemic preparedness and be able to disburse rapid-surge financing for response of $50-100 billion at short notice to help stop an emerging pandemic threat. Based on the experience of this pandemic, these funding targets, especially for preparedness, will likely need to increase.

World leaders should commit to launch and fund a new financing mechanism that is fit-for-purpose, based on more rigorous cost estimates of what is required to get the world better prepared, and ensure that its resources are not only additional to current global health spending but also that the preparedness funds are protected in the event of a crisis. This should not just be about business as usual or mobilizing more money for all things health: A new facility should be catalytic; incentivize countries to prioritize development, budgeting, and implementation of their national health security action plans; and hold them to account. Launching this mechanism should not wait until this pandemic is over.

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We must, we absolutely must use this window to focus on tangible actions this year. To build the tools for the future we need, for financing, surge capacity, manufacturing triggers, for oversight. We don’t want to miss this opportunity.”
Beth Cameron, Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense, National Security Council, White House
________________________


3. Elevate pandemic preparedness and response to the highest levels of political leadership, including adopting a global implementation plan and establishing a high-level oversight body with the mandate to prepare for and respond to pandemic threats.

To solve for the egregious lack of decisive leadership and clear accountability for the global COVID-19 response and for pandemic preparedness, the Independent Panel calls for world leaders to take several actions this year: establish a Global Health Threats Council made up of heads of state and government, adopt a political declaration at a Special Session of the United National General Assembly, and adopt a Pandemic Framework Convention. Taken together, these steps would ensure this agenda gets the high-level and sustained political attention and support it demands, and which has been lacking for far too long. A Global Threats Council model is not only something the world needs to prevent and prepare for future pandemics, but a model that we need now to coordinate and action key priorities to end this pandemic. World leaders should embark on those negotiations now and a high-level oversight body should be set up to steer these efforts forward. Simultaneously, world leaders should forge a robust political declaration for adoption at UNGA that will be more than words and not just a one-off event. The Special Session should set in motion a global plan to implement the full range of the Panel’s recommendations to get the world better prepared before the next pandemic strikes, and every head of state or government should lay out what they will do in support.

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“One way to get countries to do more is to have them held accountable by their citizens … Civil society needs to be brought into the decision making processes [for pandemic preparedness], to hold governments accountable for action.”
— Rosemarie Muganda, Regional Advocacy Director for Africa, PATH
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4. Create meaningful and sustained mechanisms to engage civil society as critical partners for driving system change and accountability.

The Independent Panel report underscores that COVID-19 is so much more than a public health crisis; it’s a profound socio-economic crisis, whose impacts will be felt by the poorest and most vulnerable for years, perhaps decades, to come. The longer the pandemic persists, the more the inequities in our systems are amplified and deepened.

As countries, companies, and communities emerge from the acute crisis of the pandemic, they have a responsibility to step up and help close these global gaps, and ensure that this does not happen again. Leaders, at every level — national, regional, global — should take steps to ensure that civil society organizations have a seat at the table as they build and adapt their response and preparedness plans, to ensure those plans reflect the needs of their communities, and to empower citizens to hold their political leaders to account for enacting the fundamental changes needed for a more resilient world.

Pandemic Action Network is laser-focused to seize this window to take action and we are relentless in our advocacy because we believe that we can and must pandemic-proof our present and our future. Together, our 100+ partners urge world leaders — at the G7, G20 and other global summits — to recognize that right now, they have one job: end this pandemic and ensure we are prepared for the next.

 

Pandemic Action Network Statement on the Report of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Make It the Last Pandemic

Pandemic Action Network welcomes the long-awaited report from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (The Independent Panel): COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, which assesses the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and recommends steps world leaders should take to end this pandemic and prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from ever happening again. 

Pandemic Action Network co-founder Carolyn Reynolds said, “The Independent Panel’s report affirms what Pandemic Action Network has long stressed: That despite repeated warnings over many years, the world was woefully unprepared to mobilize with the urgency, speed, and scale required to prevent an emerging infectious disease outbreak from escalating into a devastating and costly pandemic, whose health and socio-economic impacts will be felt for years, if not decades. As the Independent Panel rightly notes, COVID-19 was a preventable disaster — one that continues to prey on the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in countries at all levels of income.  

“The Independent Panel’s urgent calls on wealthy nations to supply at least 1 billion vaccines to low- and middle-income countries by September, fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), accelerate technology transfer and remove trade-related barriers are imperative, together with the call for the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a roadmap with clear goals, targets, and milestones for ending the pandemic. Sadly, the fact that these recommendations are needed nearly 18 months into the crisis — and when the last week marked the highest number of COVID-19 cases the world has recorded to date — speaks volumes about the failures of the global response.  

“Yet as we continue to battle this pandemic, we cannot afford to ignore the next one. We commend the Independent Panel for keeping a clear eye on the future. Many of the Panel’s recommendations reflect the priorities we have set out in our 2021 Agenda for Action, including to: elevate global and national leadership on pandemic preparedness and response; increase investments in preparedness and surge capacity through a new international financing facility;  strengthen the WHO; create a rapid global surveillance and alert system; and ensure a pre-negotiated global mechanism for rapid development and equitable supply of lifesaving tools and technologies. We also support the Panel’s call for a UN Special Summit this fall at which heads of state will commit to action. 

“Most of the Independent Panel’s recommendations are not novel, and they will not solve all the weaknesses exposed by this pandemic. But they provide a starting point both to accelerate the end of this crisis and build a better prepared world. At upcoming global summits, world leaders must take steps to address pandemics as the grave and existential threat to humanity that they are. Too many times in the past, recommendations on pandemic preparedness have faded once the immediate crisis has waned. We owe it to the 3.3 million people who have lost their lives and the brave heroes of this pandemic — the frontline health and essential workers, the epidemiologists, the researchers, the educators, the community activists — not to let that happen again. We want to see a step change in the ambition of world leaders to end this pandemic and pandemic-proof our future and we hope the Independent Panel’s report will be the catalyst for that change.”

Pandemic Action Network Honored Among Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas

In one year, Pandemic Action Network has come together as a bold catalytic coalition of more than 100 global multi-sector partners to inspire a change in the world, knowing that no single stakeholder can tackle pandemic preparedness or response alone. 

We are proud that Pandemic Action Network has been honored as a part of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas because changing the world is precisely the point of our collective efforts. 

World Changing Ideas is an annual social good awards program that elevates innovative projects and concepts that are tackling the world’s biggest challenges, from solving health crises and social injustice to economic inequality and more. Now in its fifth year, the awards have showcased ideas dedicated to making the world a better place.

Last year, COVID-19 shocked the world into awareness that we are not prepared for pandemics. This deadly, costly crisis — which has impacted every country around the globe — has also created a political opportunity for global action — a window that will close as the pandemic fades. 

Our Network is seizing this opportunity for action. We believe that every effort we make in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a longer-term legacy that better prepares humanity to deal with outbreaks and help prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from ever happening again. We know that the challenges are too big and too many for any one single stakeholder or sector, but our experience during our first year of collective action has proven the power of unlocking our Network model time and again.

As we navigate the second year of this pandemic, the work of our Network has only begun and is more urgent than ever. The current crisis in India and the spread of more infectious variants show that we are in a race against time and that the gravity of the challenge demands a step change in the ambition of world leaders. Together, Pandemic Action Network is catalyzing solutions, amplifying opportunities for action, and accelerating an equitable response to this pandemic while seizing every opportunity to put pandemic prevention and preparedness on the agenda so that we can create a pandemic-proof world for future generations.

The First 100 Days of the Biden Presidency: A Pandemic Progress Report

Carolyn Reynolds, Co-founder & Courtney Carson, Senior Program Officer, Pandemic Action Network

The COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed almost every aspect of President Biden’s first 100 days in office. During the transition, the Pandemic Action Network and leading global health experts called on then-President-elect Biden to take bold steps and work with Congress and with world leaders to end the pandemic as soon as possible and ensure we are better prepared for the next one.

So how has the Biden-Harris Administration done so far, and what remains to be done?

Prioritizing the threat: Right out of the gate, President Biden made a series of welcome announcements to prioritize pandemic response both at home and abroad.  

 

These early announcements included reversing the politically-motivated decision last year to initiate U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO). Instead the Biden-Harris Administration has leaned in to bolster the WHO and the international response to this crisis. Notably, Vice President Kamala Harris’s first conversation as VP with a global leader was with WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros.

COVID-19 response: President Biden has shown leadership by wearing a mask consistently in public, and by issuing a universal mask mandate for all federal buildings, public transportation, and transportation hubs. This cemented the science-backed recommendation that wearing a mask is a key preventative measure. In addition, his first major legislative package, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), provided urgently needed relief to families, states, and communities grappling with the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19, and  accelerated the frontline pandemic response both at home and abroad. Despite some early challenges, the domestic vaccine rollout has accelerated in Biden’s first 100 days, with 235 million vaccines administered and 98 million people fully vaccinated as of today, according to the CDC. Despite these efforts, vaccination rates are now slowing — a worrying trend as vaccines skepticism grows across the U.S.

On the global response front, the Biden Administration has also taken some important steps, namely to commit a total of $7.5 billion to date to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) partnership and its COVAX financing facility to ramp up access to vaccines and other lifesaving tools around the world. As a result, the U.S. is now the leading donor to this global solidarity effort. Highlighting its commitment to the global response, the U.S. hosted international leaders to kick off a virtual resource mobilization campaign for COVAX, urging other wealthy nations to contribute. It also announced agreements to loan vaccine doses to Canada and Mexico, and to provide relief and vaccine donations to India, including mobilizing the U.S. military to provide emergency aid in the face of the country’s growing COVID-19 crisis.  

Pandemic preparedness: U.S. leadership is also needed to strengthen systems for pandemic preparedness, at home and abroad. Pandemic Action Network continues to urge President Biden and other world leaders to lay the groundwork for a pandemic-proof America and world now — before the pandemic fades from view and political and public attention shifts to other priorities, as it has too many times before.  

Here again, the Biden-Harris Administration has laid down some important early markers. First at home: The American Jobs Plan includes a serious commitment of $30 billion to bolster prevent future pandemics and protect against a range of biological threats. This represents renewed and increased commitment to bolstering research and development, surveillance, and strategic stockpiles to ensure America is ready to respond to future disease threats. 

On the global front, President Biden is leading a push for new sustainable financing to help all countries be prepared to counter pandemic threats. Pandemic Action Network is pleased that in NSM1 and several follow-on announcements, the Biden-Harris Administration has expressed its intent to heed our call to establish an enduring international catalytic financing mechanism for preparedness, with the aim to ensure that every country has the core capacity it needs to detect, prevent, and respond to outbreaks at their source before they become deadly and costly pandemics like COVID-19. Earlier this week, Vice President Harris urged representatives at the United Nations to work together now to prepare for the next pandemic. The Administration’s initial budget proposal for FY22 released April 9 backs up these pledges with a $1 billion increase in funding for global health security. 

Looking Ahead: This progress in President Biden’s first 100 days is a welcome start. But much more must be done, and urgently — as the pandemic continues to rage around the world and as the next pandemic threat is looming. Pandemic Action Network has issued an Agenda for Action for world leaders. U.S. support will be critical to drive progress in all of these areas, but here are three where the Biden-Harris Administration can and should lead the way now:

  • Expanded global vaccine access is vital to ending this pandemic. According to the Launch and Scale Faster initiative at Duke University, the U.S. has secured at least 500 million more doses than it needs to vaccinate every American, while some of the poorest nations have yet to receive a single dose. Given U.S. success in vaccination — and the threat to the U.S. of the continued spread of COVID-19 and its variants in other parts of the globe — the Biden-Harris Administration should lead the way to immediately share more excess doses with the world through COVAX. In his first address to Congress, President Biden committed to sharing vaccines with the world once the U.S. has amassed additional supply and when all Americans have access to COVID-19 vaccine. We are there, and we will not end this pandemic if we continue to allow other countries to go unserved. And President Biden should also work with world leaders to agree on a Global COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap to reach at least 70% global vaccine coverage as soon as possible. 
  • Mobilize additional domestic and international funding for preparedness on par with the threat. To this end, we urge the U.S. to build on its commitment to establish a global financing mechanism for pandemic preparedness with a pledge of at least $2 billion to start, and call on other G7 and G20 member countries to join the U.S. and invest in this effort toward an initial capitalization of $20 billion this year. Separately, the U.S. should also commit a multi-year pledge toward fully funding the five-year plan of action for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). CEPI is playing a critical role in accelerating global access to vaccines in this crisis, and has set a bold goal to compress the future timeline to develop new vaccines for emerging pandemic threats so that they can be quickly developed, tested, and rolled out in an emergency. This is the kind of ambition the world needs, and the U.S. must do its fair share to advance this global public good.  
  • Fix the global pandemic defense system. While new and dedicated funding for preparedness is absolutely critical, it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. The COVID-19 crisis has shown that we must strengthen our international instruments of leadership and accountability to ensure both better preparedness and more rapid response to potential pandemics. This includes strengthening our existing global mechanisms such as the WHO and International Health Regulations, but also seriously entertaining bold and new modalities and frameworks for pandemic governance, such as the proposal for a new pandemic treaty, which now has the backing of dozens of other world leaders. President Biden convened world leaders last week on climate change to push for bold solutions; pandemic threats deserve the same level of political priority.

 

The next few months will see a series of global summits and convenings, offering world leaders multiple opportunities to seize the moment and take action. Pandemic Action Network urges President Biden and his Administration to seize these opportunities, doubling down on the progress of the first 100 days and going bigger and bolder on ending this pandemic and preventing the next. While progress since January 20 has been meaningful, the costs of the U.S. and the world failing to act sooner continue to mount — and the pandemic is far from over. Now is the time for a step change in the ambition of the U.S. and global leaders to do what it will take to end this pandemic for everyone, and ensure that COVID-19 leaves a long-term legacy of a pandemic-proof world. 

India Post-COVID-19: An Opportunity to Strengthen Health Security Through Cross-Sector Collaboration

Patrik Silborn, Pandemic Action Network Regional Advisor, Asia-Pacific and Madhav Joshi, CEO, India Health Fund and Pandemic Action Network Advisory Committee Member

Around the world, COVID-19 has laid bare critical gaps in the world’s health infrastructure, and India is no different. In the past two decades the country has significantly improved health outcomes with sharp reductions in child and maternal mortality and the successful elimination of several infectious diseases. Yet, the pandemic threatens to reverse this progress.

Since the start of the COVID-19, over 13 million cases have been registered, resulting in 171 thousand deaths. However, it is believed that these numbers severely underestimate the true spread of the disease. Estimates vary, but some researchers believe that as many as 90 cases are missed for every confirmed infection. The economic impact has been significant, with GDP expected to contract by 8% in 2020 and the hardest effects felt by the most vulnerable. India also has the highest rate of tuberculosis (TB) in the world, claiming around 436 thousand lives every year. In the first half of 2020, TB case notifications dropped by 25 percent compared to the year prior, which is expected to increase mortality rates further. Adding to the challenge, people with TB are at greater risk of COVID-19, and the potential for co-morbidities points to the need for integrated multi-disease approaches instead of the diagnosis and control of one disease at a time.

COVID-19 has been an extraordinary challenge, but the crisis is also an opportunity for India to rebuild better. The pandemic has created new opportunities for improving collaboration across sectors in India. To do this effectively, however, public and private stakeholders must come together to establish joint priorities, improve the pooling of resources, and leverage the unique capabilities of every actor. 

In short, India needs a new compact between the public and private sectors. A number of factors make this both a relevant and opportune time to seize this opportunity.

First, India has a thriving private healthcare sector. The country is home to some of the largest pharmaceutical and vaccines producers in the world, and it has become the largest supplier of generic drugs and vaccines globally. India’s private hospitals attract patients from around the world for specialised treatment. And in India, over 70 percent of people — including low-income earners — seek healthcare services from private providers. 

Second, the government is demonstrating a commitment to improve healthcare outcomes.  In 2017, the Government of India embarked on its most ambitious health program ever.  Ayushman Bharat is a social health insurance scheme that will cover healthcare costs of over 500 million people when fully deployed. Further, the Government of India increased the health budget by over 100 percent this year with ambitious plans to upgrade health infrastructure at all levels.

Third, there is a growing philanthropy movement that brings both ambition and capital to address challenges at scale. India is home to some of the largest and most innovative companies in the world, and private wealth has exploded in recent years. Spurred on by a desire to give back to communities, and the 2 percent CSR tax, new philanthropic initiatives have sprung up in recent years. This is a trend that has been accelerated by the recent pandemic. The multiple interlinked COVID-19 induced crises — from migrant workers and vulnerable populations losing their livelihoods and homes, children missing education opportunities, to overburdened health workers — has spurred unprecedented individual and corporate philanthropy in India.

Finally, there is recognition by all stakeholders for the need to reimagine primary healthcare delivery in the country. With a population of 1.3 billion people, providing access to care for everyone and putting in place effective pandemic preparedness and response systems will require a reimagination of the entire healthcare system. To detect and respond to existing diseases or new pathogens, India must strengthen both public and private service delivery. This requires innovation — not only of tools and systems — but also in how services are being delivered through primary health care systems. 

There are several stakeholders across the public and private sectors that must come together to make this happen. 

  • Universities and research institutions in India have the knowledge and basic research needed to develop innovative solutions that can meet the unique needs of a large and underserved population, especially in screening, diagnostics and technology-enabled solutions. 
  • Indian companies and start-ups have the ability to apply these technologies to develop solutions designed for low-resource settings in India and other parts of the world. 
  • The Government can create a favourable policy environment for innovations as well as avenues for introducing new solutions in the public health system.

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for pandemic-proofing the world. Leaders have an historic opportunity to take actions now that will not only hasten the end of this pandemic, but will also begin to pandemic-proof the planet so that future generations never again experience the health, economic, and social devastation wrought by COVID-19. To do so, all countries must invest more money in health security, in the capacity to develop and produce vaccines, in the detection and response to new pathogens, and in reinforcing collaboration across borders. 

But India can engage globally while taking action at home. Now is the time to develop the partnerships that can drive innovation, the surveillance systems needed to quickly detect and respond to new pathogens, and the approaches that put the needs of patients at the centre. This will make India better equipped to respond to COVID-19 and make India healthier in the future. The fight against this pandemic is still not over. But this is a unique moment to build a bridge to a better future.

Pandemic Action Network Statement on Outcomes of the G7 Special Summit and Munich Security Conference on the Global COVID-19 Response

Eloise Todd and Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founders of the Pandemic Action Network, said:

The Pandemic Action Network applauds the financial pledges made today by global leaders to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and its COVAX facility, which together constitute a significant jump forward toward ACT-A’s US$38B funding target. Substantial contributions from the leaders of the US, Germany, and the European Commission helped make this leap, along with new contributions from Canada and Japan. We also welcome US President Joe Biden’s call for increased investments in global health security to address emerging pandemic and biosecurity threats.

This strong show of multilateralism, together with commitments already made by the United Kingdom’s leadership of the G7 Presidency and the Italian G20 Presidency to prioritize global health security in their forthcoming summits, gives us hope that 2021 could be the year in which we not only can turn the corner on COVID-19, but also lay the foundation for a world that will be better prepared for future pandemic threats.

To accelerate the end of this global crisis, we urge G7 leaders to heed the call of French President Emmanuel Macron to ensure healthcare workers and the most vulnerable people in the poorest countries can urgently access to COVID-19 vaccines, by sharing some of the vaccines ordered by the wealthiest countries without delay, as well as by closing the remaining financing gap for the ACT-Accelerator.

Yet even as the world is fighting this crisis, we must urgently prepare for the next one. That’s why we also are urging G7 and G20 leaders to join with President Biden in plans for “creating an enduring international catalytic financing mechanism for advancing and improving existing bilateral and multilateral approaches to global health security.” Speaker after speaker at the Munich Security Conference today talked about how the costs of inaction vastly outweigh the cost of acting in advance of future outbreaks to quash potential pandemic threats, yet preparedness has been ignored for far too long. Actions speak louder than words: Now is the time for the G7 and G20 to commit the policies, plans, and resources necessary to build a future that will protect both people and planet.

2021 could be a historic year for multilateral action to combat some of the gravest threats facing humanity. There is an opportunity for leaders to ensure equitable access to vaccines and to advance ambitious pandemic preparedness, climate, and biodiversity plans toward a better, safer, and healthier world. Our Network of more than 90 partners around the world stands ready to work with world leaders to seize this unprecedented opportunity. We simply cannot afford to fail.

Pandemic Action Network Praises White House Actions to Bolster the COVID-19 Response and Prioritize Pandemic Preparedness

The Pandemic Action Network warmly welcomes the suite of early announcements by the Biden-Harris Administration to elevate and accelerate global efforts to help hasten an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that America and the world is better prepared for emerging pandemic threats. The decisions and commitments by the White House adopt several of the recommendations that were included in a paper submitted to the Biden-Harris transition team by a group of leading U.S. global health policy experts, including two of our Pandemic Action Network co-founders, Carolyn Reynolds and Gabrielle Fitzgerald.

On his first day in office, President Biden signed a new Executive Order to organize and mobilize the U.S. government to provide an effective COVID-19 response and provide U.S. leadership on global health security. This was followed on day two with a National Security Directive on U.S. Global Leadership to Strengthen the International COVID-19 Response and Advance Global Health Security and Biological Preparedness and an Executive Order on Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High Consequence Public Health Threats. In addition, to underscore the new Administration’s support for the global COVID-19 response, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros and Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to the WHO’s Executive Board meeting.

Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Carolyn Reynolds said,

“These early announcements and actions by President Biden and his Administration to prioritize global health security represent the kind of bold leadership that has been lacking on pandemic response and preparedness for far too long. We are delighted to see that President Biden has rightly elevated pandemic threats as a top national security priority for the United States, and that the plan he has put forward is both national and global, recognizing that America’s health and security depends on stopping COVID-19 and future biothreats both at home and abroad.

The Pandemic Action Network and our partners look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to follow through on these commitments and leave a legacy that better prepares America and the world to address emerging pandemic threats and ensure that a deadly and costly pandemic like COVID-19 never happens again.”

Collectively, the White House actions taken to date respond to our Network’s calls for the Biden-Harris Administration on several issues, including to: prioritize and scale up financing for pandemic preparedness and response both at home and abroad; step up U.S. support for the global COVID-19 response, including joining the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and the COVAX Facility; reform and strengthen the World Health Organization; invest in better outbreak detection and analytics; strengthen global supply chains for frontline pandemic response, including for personal protective equipment; and elevate leadership and accountability within the U.S. government on pandemics.

Go Big: President Biden Has an Unprecedented Opportunity to Make Humanity Safer from Pandemic Threats

By: Carolyn Reynolds

The inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the new U.S. President and Vice President has arrived with a mix of sadness and hope. The 400 lights along the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool and 200,000 flags on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. are poignant reminders of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. The deadly combination of this protracted health crisis and the recent assault on the U.S. Capitol building have cast a dark shadow over this historic occasion. Yet it also underscores the tremendous urgency – and opportunity – to finally get COVID-19 under control and take the steps necessary to make America and the world better prepared for future pandemic threats. It is now or never to go big – both on pandemic response and on preparedness.

With 400,000 American deaths and counting and tens of millions of families struggling with unemployment, hunger, and virtual schooling, the new Administration has rightly made the domestic COVID-19 response job one. Before inauguration, President Biden rolled out an ambitious $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus and response plan and plan to vaccinate 100 million in 100 days. Included in the package is a relatively very modest, but critically important, $11 billion toward the global pandemic response – recognizing America will not be safe until every country is safe, and that America’s health and economic recovery from the pandemic is highly dependent on the world’s health and recovery.

More good news came from Secretary of State-designate Tony Blinken’s remarks at his confirmation hearing that the United States would formally join COVAX to promote global access to COVID-19 vaccines. Together with the appointment of an experienced slate of leaders to key Administration posts who are highly knowledgeable on pandemic threats – Blinken, Ron Klain, Jake Sullivan, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Beth Cameron, Bonnie Jenkins, and Rochelle Walensky, among others – and the plan to reverse withdrawal of the United States from the WHO on day one, the Biden-Harris Administration is off to a good start.

But the new President and his team must do much more to meet this moment in history. Even as we fight the pandemic before us, the next pandemic will not wait. The failure to sustain high-level political leadership and investments to prioritize pandemic preparedness left the world highly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. A full year into this crisis, there are still gaping holes around the world in frontline infection prevention and control capabilities and reliable data. Gaps in affordable access to vaccines, diagnostics, treatments, personal protective equipment and other essential supplies to detect, prevent, and respond to outbreaks are more glaring than ever, despite repeated warnings and solutions from numerous expert commissions and reports over the past five years. It should not be this way.

It is time to go big. As a centerpiece of President Biden’s plans to assert America’s position as a go-to leader and partner on the world stage, we are urging the Biden-Harris Administration to work with Congress and world leaders to launch and lead an aggressive agenda for action on global health security, including:

1) Finish the fight on the global COVID-19 response: Urgently help close the remaining financing gap for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to support widespread global distribution of vaccines, and commit to work through the COVAX facility to exchange and/or donate vaccine supplies to support other nations in need.

2) Ramp up U.S. investments in global health and pandemic preparedness: Establish a dedicated Global Health Security Challenge Fund to accelerate national investments to close critical health security gaps and stimulate a global “race to the top” for preparedness. The United States should commit $2 billion to kickstart a $10-20 billion Challenge Fund – a tremendous bargain compared to the trillions being spent for COVID response and recovery. Overall, the United States should double funding for global health security and other global health programs over the next five years, including investing in a stronger frontline health workforce as the first line of defense for outbreaks.

3) Build a smarter global pandemic defense system: Ensure the WHO is fit-for-purpose, including reliable funding, enhanced authority to conduct early and independent outbreak investigations, and the ability to hold member states accountable for compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHRs). To help “pandemic-proof” the future, the world also needs a new international preparedness framework and a state-of-the-art, global outbreak detection system to better predict and manage cross-border threats. The United States should also put pandemic preparedness at the top of the UN Security Council agenda and call on the UN Secretary-General to convene heads of state in a global preparedness summit this year.

4) Bolster global research, development, and delivery of tools for emerging infectious disease threats: Make a $200 million commitment for U.S. participation in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and expand its capacity to serve as a permanent global R&D coordination hub with an end-to-end approach. Leaders should also fortify a network of regional R&D, manufacturing, and supply hubs so that every continent and every nation can quickly get the tools to stop outbreaks at their source. Supporting a global health security-focused Grand Challenge at USAID and a permanent emerging and reemerging infectious diseases funding line for BARDA will be other key tools in our pandemic arsenal.

5) Elevate U.S. global leadership, diplomacy, and accountability: Designate and empower high-level interagency leadership roles with the funding necessary to elevate and sustain global preparedness as a continuing national security, diplomatic, and health priority. A 9/11-style bipartisan Commission on the U.S. Response to COVID-19 would provide a critical public examination and political pressure to address the most urgent national and global preparedness gaps, and seek ways to protect the independence of our science and public health agencies.

This won’t be easy, given pressing domestic demands and deep divides and distrust in Congress and the American public. But like the response to 9/11 and the AIDS pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis demands extraordinary U.S. global leadership, ingenuity, and political resolve – to treat pandemics as the existential global and national security threat they are.

The good news is that there is a strong record of bipartisan support on addressing infectious disease threats to build on – from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and the 2015 Ebola supplemental bill. President Obama’s November 2016 Executive Order was left in place by the Trump White House, which also produced a strong Biodefense Strategy (2018) and Global Health Security Strategy (2019) at the direction of Congress. Bipartisan House and Senate bills introduced in the last Congress provide a starting point for building a new consensus.

Just as the military continuously prepares for war on multiple fronts, we can and must prevent the next pandemic while fighting this one. But the political opportunity to act is now, while the impact of COVID-19 is still front and center in people’s lives. Waiting until this pandemic is over or the next one comes is simply too late. We must not wait for the next crisis to act.

What We’re Reading to Start the New Year

By Autumn Lerner

Like so many, our team took a brief break at the end of 2020. The break gave us rest first and foremost, but also time to reflect on the challenges and opportunities ahead. As we enter 2021, the world is navigating a dark winter with the rampant spread of COVID-19, but also promise and opportunity presented by multiple viable vaccines. Despite vaccine rollout in 42 countries, low-income and middle-income countries have largely been left out. The second year of the pandemic is a critical time to secure political will and financing for both near-term global response measures and longer-term pandemic preparedness. As we start 2021, here’s a short list of pieces we are reading to inform our thinking and actions in the year ahead.

The Plague Year
Lawrence Wright, Staff Writer for The New Yorker, dissects what went wrong in America’s response to the coronavirus. The U.S. has only 4% of the world’s population—and yet it accounts for 20% of all COVID-19 deaths. Wright’s 30,000-word account, based on extensive interviews, offers an expansive portrait of how the pandemic has changed our lives. For a summary version, Wright was interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air last week.

Which Countries Have Responded Best to COVID-19?
In this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Tom Frieden discusses ways countries around the world responded best to COVID-19 in 2020. As we begin the new year continuing to fight the virus, he argues that we should learn from the most successful strategies to improve our testing, tracing, strategic closure, and other public health responses, even as vaccines are distributed around the world.

Where Year Two of the Pandemic Will Take Us
Ed Yong penned this piece in the Atlantic outlining what Americans can expect in the coming years as the world continues to battle COVID-19, which has taken more than 326,000 American lives to date. Cases continue to rise in the first weeks of 2021, and although vaccines are rolling out, the U.S. and the world have a ways to go to implement successful and equitable vaccine programs.

History will judge us if we vaccinate rich countries while poor ones suffer
Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. John Nkengasong launched the new year with an urgent call-to-action for the world via an interview with Canada’s CBC Radio. “The silence of our friends will be remembered when the history of this pandemic will be written,” Dr. Nkengasong said, speaking to the inequity in the global vaccine rollout.

The Anti-Vaxx Playbook
While vaccine hesitancy and the anti-vaxx movement has been a growing challenge, the current pandemic has supercharged the situation, representing a tipping point for trust in vaccines overall. In a new report, the Center for Countering Digital Hate infiltrates a meeting of the world’s leading anti-vaccine advocates to expose their community’s tactics, messages, and use of social media to disrupt uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.

What if Scientists Already Know How to Prevent the Next Pandemic?
In the Nation, Jimmy Tobias examines One Health, a pan-species approach to health that could ward off the next big outbreak. The piece details why we need to unite across environment, public health, agriculture, forestry, land use, climate movements, and more to prevent pandemics at the source.

Pandemic-Proof Your Habits
Kate Murphy’s recent article in the New York Times about habits and routines highlights how disruptive the pandemic has been to the structure that our brains typically rely on. This piece describes how and why our bodies and minds crave routine, and how we are not biologically engineered to deal with changes or disruptions to routine—which we got in spades in 2020!

Wishing all a productive reset and thoughtful setting of new routines that will give us the individual and collective energy to seize the opportunities and challenges of the year ahead. Together we can accelerate the journey to the end of COVID-19 and ensure that it leaves a long-term legacy of global pandemic preparedness.

Statement on FY21 Omnibus and Emergency COVID-19 Spending Bill

Pandemic Action Network welcomes emergency funding for Gavi, urges new Administration and Congress to prioritize global investments in pandemic preparedness and response

Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Carolyn Reynolds released the following statement on the FY21 omnibus and emergency COVID-19 spending bill:

“We are pleased that Congress saw fit to include $4 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in the final omnibus and emergency spending bill to support the global COVID-19 response. These funds will help ensure that people in need around the world can receive lifesaving vaccines as soon as possible, regardless of where they live.

But Congress must do much more to support global efforts to end this pandemic and help prevent the next one. A U.S. contribution of $4 billion for the Global Fund and $200 million for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) are also urgently needed as part of a broader global response package to address COVID-19’s devastating impacts, which threaten to set back years, if not decades, of progress in global health.

Increasing global investments in pandemic preparedness and response is squarely in the U.S. interest: America will not be safe until every country is safe, and America’s health and economic recovery is highly dependent on global health and recovery. Like the response to 9/11 and the AIDS pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis demands extraordinary U.S. global leadership to treat pandemics as the existential national security threat they are.

We urge the 117th Congress and incoming Biden Administration to work together to significantly step up the global fight against infectious disease threats and prevent another deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.”

Read our recommendations for the incoming Biden-Harris Administration here.

Recommendations for the Biden-Harris Administration – Now or Never: An Agenda for Global Action to Make America and the World Safer from Pandemic Threats

We urge President-elect Biden and the incoming Biden-Harris Administration to launch and lead an aggressive agenda for action on global health security to end the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible while accelerating global preparedness for the next pandemic. The following five-point agenda for action has been prepared by a group of leading U.S. global health policy experts, including two of our Pandemic Action Network co-founders. The outlined recommendations reflect the group’s collective experience as well as the conclusions of an extensive body of research and reports from numerous expert groups over the past five years. As the pandemic has upended lives and livelihoods in every household in America and every corner of the globe, the political moment is ripe for President-elect Biden to galvanize and lead a global coalition of public and private actors around a shared commitment to help prevent a deadly and costly pandemic like COVID-19 from happening again. President-elect Biden has the opportunity to leave a longer-term legacy that will better prepare humanity to more effectively address emerging pandemic threats, and break the persistent cycle of panic and neglect once and for all. Waiting until this crisis is over or until the next one happens will be too late. It’s now or never. Read the five-point agenda white paper here: Now or Never: An Agenda for Global Action to Make America and the World Safer from Pandemic Threats

Statement on President-Elect Biden’s Announcement of Ron Klain as Next White House Chief of Staff

The Pandemic Action Network welcomes President-elect Joe Biden’s appointment of Ron Klain to serve as the White House Chief of Staff for President-elect Biden.

Together with the Biden-Harris transition team’s announcement earlier this week of a seven-point plan to fight COVID-19 and a COVID-19 Advisory Board of seasoned public health experts, Klain’s appointment is a welcome signal that the incoming administration will make pandemics a top priority.

Network Co-founders Gabrielle Fitzgerald and Carolyn Reynolds stated, “Getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control is job one for the Biden-Harris Administration. Ron’s experience as Ebola Czar and his continuing advocacy will bring a strong manager and voice on pandemic threats to the White House. When it comes to pandemics, it’s time to break the cycle of panic and neglect once and for all. The Pandemic Action Network looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to do everything we can to end this pandemic and invest in better preparedness in the United States and around the world so that this never happens again.”

Multilateralism Matters: Why the U.S. Should Stay in the WHO

By Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network

*This blog is adapted from an article published in CQ Researcher, September 2020

As the world marks United Nations Day on October 24 – in the midst of a pandemic with no end in sight ― it’s a good moment to reflect on how much the United States benefits from the UN, and in particular its membership in the World Health Organization (WHO). U.S. membership in the WHO is on the ballot in the presidential election, with the current Administration’s decision to initiate withdrawal of the U.S. from the WHO. On the other side, Democratic nominee Joe Biden has said that if he were to be elected President he would reverse the decision on day one in office.

The choice is clear: the WHO serves U.S. interests in several ways, and never more so than now.

First, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, infectious disease outbreaks anywhere in the world can quickly put American lives and livelihoods at risk. Until a vaccine exists and is widely and equitably delivered around the world, no country will be safe from COVID-19. Ending the pandemic requires a united global effort, in which the WHO plays an indispensable role. Countries worldwide rely on the WHO’s expertise to lead the global response to the pandemic, from providing technical guidance on proven interventions to coordinating international efforts to accelerate research, development, and universal access to a COVID-19 vaccine and to therapeutics. The WHO-coordinated Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and Solidarity Trial are unprecedented global efforts that will increase the likelihood of ending the pandemic faster.

Second, the WHO has led global efforts to combat a host of other infectious disease threats. The eradication in 1980 of smallpox, which killed an estimated 300 million people during the 20th century, is one of the agency’s greatest achievements. With sustained WHO leadership, the world is now extremely close to eradicating polio, down to just 176 cases worldwide in 2019.  U.S. political and economic support has been vital to this effort, and withdrawal could stall efforts to end this debilitating scourge. International efforts to fight influenza, HIV/AIDS, malaria, measles, and tuberculosis also depend on the WHO for support.

Third, the WHO provides the backbone for the world’s infectious disease early warning system.  Working closely with experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the WHO helps governments assess their pandemic preparedness gaps and mobilize early detection and response efforts. U.S. withdrawal will hobble that capacity and leave a major hole in the common global defense against growing pandemic threats.

Both the WHO and the United States have lessons to learn from this pandemic. While the WHO’s emergency response capacity has improved considerably in recent years, all agree it can be strengthened. An independent panel has been established to review the global COVID-19 response and what governments, the WHO, and the international system could do differently to improve their preparedness and response. But scapegoating the WHO for COVID-19 is a political distraction. The agency, which lacks the ability to compel member states to act, is only as effective as its members – particularly its most powerful member and largest donor – will allow.

Leaving the WHO will further erode U.S. influence on the global stage. It would be ill-advised at any time, but to do so as the world grapples with the mounting health and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is unfathomable. Only global solidarity and a coordinated, multilateral approach will bring us safely out of this war against a deadly virus that knows no borders.

America needs the WHO, and the WHO needs America. The U.S. should not only stay in, it should also step up its support ― to end this pandemic and help prevent the next one.

G20 Leaders Must Turn Words Into Action on Pandemic Response and Preparedness

By Eloise Todd

The G20 Finance Ministers meeting conclusions yesterday contained some important steps forward that will provide more resources to developing countries to fight COVID-19 and mitigate the impact on already vulnerable communities. Unfortunately, the meetings did not emphasize the need to take action on key health priorities of pandemic preparedness and prevention or on financing the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A).

There were at least some welcome concrete steps taken yesterday. Extending the Debt Service Suspension Initiative by six months, and promising to consider a further six-month extension, frees up important liquidity for indebted countries at a time when resources are scarce. Ongoing commitments to support domestic tax revenue generation and collection in developing countries also helps economies weather the storm of this pandemic.

But on health-specific investments, it was words, not action, that dominated. Pandemic preparedness appears in the outcome text, but as all too often, as the last pillar of all – almost an afterthought. Our investments in preventing future pandemics should be top of mind, rather than at the end of the list. The G20 Finance Ministers at least agree to “enhance resilience against future shocks,” including using G20 infrastructure efforts to increase the resilience of infrastructure, as well as committing to better understanding the range of risks that lead to pandemics. At the Pandemic Action Network, we would like to see the efforts to protect our countries from future waves and risks rolled out alongside – and where possible integrated with – COVID-19 response efforts. Every effort we make in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a longer-term legacy that better prepares our countries to more effectively deal with pandemic outbreaks and – where possible – prevent them at the source. Pandemic prevention and preparedness should be among the G20’s top priorities throughout this pandemic and beyond.

At a time of crisis, we also need good intentions to convert as quickly as possible into action. While the updates to the G20 Action Plan hit the right topics, we need to see moments like G20 Finance Ministerials being used as a place to write the checks, not just agree with the general principle that more money is needed. The update to Pillar 1 of the Action Plan: “Health Response – Saving Lives,” for example, states that the G20 countries are “committed to investing in an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic to bring the spread of the virus under control and prevent further transmission” – noting that getting on top of the disease is ultimately the only way in which our economies will recover. The reference highlighting the role of the ACT-A as a way in which we can take “forward our collective action to accelerate the research, development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines” is also welcome. But with the financing gap for 2020 hovering above $14B and just over two months to go until the end of the year, a meeting of the world’s most powerful Finance Ministers must lead to immediate action in the midst of a global pandemic. Not only does that gap need to be filled, but the time it takes from pledging funds to disbursement must be accelerated so that the time lag does not cost needless delays, and ultimately, lives.

As the Pandemic Action Network works with partners to encourage vaccinations and better understand vaccine hesitancy, we welcome the G20 showing a united front in “recognising the role of extensive immunization against COVID-19 as a global public good for health.” We also recognize that this important statement must be translated into action in the weeks and months ahead.

The G20 has a responsibility not only to free up liquidity, but also to direct funds from their own countries – the richest in the world with the access to the most diverse set of financial tools – toward the world’s most urgent priorities. The G20 Leaders’ Summit, then, is the opportunity for leaders to deliver more than in principle statements, and take responsibility for directing funds to the most urgent needs.

We call on leaders heading into the November Summit to convert two clear priorities into action: first, they should ratchet pandemic prevention and preparedness up the priority list; and second, they should turn their strong support for the ACT-A into much-needed funding to help fill the more than $14B funding gap. We will work alongside partners and governments to help encourage these outcomes, but decision makers need to use every opportunity they have to deliver concrete actions and funding in the weeks and months ahead. The longer they procrastinate, the longer it will take us to get a handle on COVID-19 and lives and livelihoods will be needlessly lost. Next month, leaders have to deliver – there is simply no time to delay.

Pandemic Action Agenda: What World Leaders Should Do to Help Prevent the Next Pandemic

With global COVID-19 cases set to surpass 50 million and spiking across the United States and Europe, world leaders are gathering in a series of international summits to discuss what they will do to stop the pandemic. The current crisis demands urgent and united action as a global community, as no country will be safe from the virus until every country is safe.

But this pandemic didn’t have to happen, and the next one won’t wait. As they fight the current battle, leaders must also take steps NOW to bolster our global and national defenses against emerging pandemic threats before they materialize.

Synthesizing lessons of what has gone wrong in COVID-19 and in previous outbreaks and epidemics, the Pandemic Action Network’s Global Health Security Architecture Working Group has identified six priorities for international action to ensure the world is better prepared for the next pandemic. These are captured in our brief Pandemic Action Agenda paper released last month.

 

 

Pandemic Action Agenda Series

Now we’re pleased to release a series of Pandemic Action Agenda papers which expand on each of the six priority areas for action:

Pandemic Action Agenda Summary: Calling on world leaders to strengthen the global health security architecture and governance and make the world better prepared for pandemics. 

Global Health R&D: Bolstering the global research and development architecture for health security.

Outbreak Detection: Enhancing the availability and use of reliable data and early warning systems to drive more effective preparedness and response to outbreaks.

Pandemic Financing: Mobilizing sufficient funding for national pandemic preparedness and global response efforts. 

Country Capacity: Enhancing countries’ capacity to prevent and respond to outbreaks through technical assistance and improving health security infrastructure.

Pandemic Supplies: Solving supply chain bottlenecks and ramping up regional and local production and delivery to ensure health workers everywhere have access to sufficient quality personal protective equipment (PPE) and other frontline health supplies.

Metrics and Evaluation: Increasing accountability through more effective mechanisms to assess—and fill gaps in—country preparedness levels. COMING SOON

 

What You Can Do

Advocate for action. Help us deliver the Pandemic Action Agenda directly to key decision-makers in your country and international organizations, and press them to take action on these issues. Contact Naomi Komuro at [email protected] and let us know who you can reach (or we can give you ideas!). 

Spread the word. Share the #PandemicActionAgenda on your social media channels and through other communications within your networks to help build us momentum to prioritize global preparedness. Find the social toolkit here

Hold leaders to account. Sustained advocacy and communications are essential to avoid repeating the cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to deadly outbreaks. Follow up with decision-makers through emails, meetings or events, and ask them share what they are doing to respond to the Pandemic Action Agenda—and let us know what you learn to inform our ongoing advocacy efforts. 

Every effort we make in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a longer-term legacy that better prepares humanity to more effectively deal with outbreaks and pandemics and—when possible—to prevent them at the source. 

Want to learn more? Please contact Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network at [email protected]

 

The Next Pandemic Won’t Wait: An Agenda for Action to Strengthen Global Preparedness

While the world is focused on the COVID-19 response, we cannot afford to continue to ignore or delay action to bolster global preparedness for emerging pandemic threats. The Pandemic Action Network released a brief paper with topline recommendations from our Global Health Security Architecture working group urging world leaders to take steps now that will help prevent the next pandemic. Read the paper here.

GPMB to World Leaders: Now Will You Listen?

By Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder Pandemic Action Network

 

We warned you, but you did not listen.  That’s the overarching message of the new report from the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) entitled A World in Disorder.  In their inaugural report one year ago, the GPMB warned of the risk of a high impact, respiratory pathogen that could quickly spread around the globe.  Now in their latest report with a starker cover and a sterner title and narrative―much like parents admonishing their delinquent teenagers―the current and former global health elders that make up the GPMB are wagging their fingers and telling world leaders: you’re out of chances.

This year’s report echoes many of the main messages from last year’s (and from many other expert commissions in recent years), including: national political leadership is paramount; investing in preparedness is not only about saving lives, it’s about protecting economies; the impact―and hence the solutions―of pandemic preparedness go well beyond the health sector, and require a One Health approach; and no one in the world is safe until everyone is safe.

Four recommendations in the report that are particularly welcome:

The UN Secretary General should convene a UN Summit on Global Health Security with heads of state, the WHO Director General, and heads of the International Financial Institutions to forge a new international preparedness and response framework.

Create a new sustainable financing mechanism for global health security that incentivizes nations to prioritize preparedness and recognizes it as a global common good that should not be at the mercy of political and economic cycles.  This echoes the call of many of our Network partners for a Global Health Security Challenge Fund.

Amend the International Health Regulations (IHRs) to improve access to information and increase member state accountability beyond the scope of the current IHRs.  This will be politically fraught but unavoidable to drive the change necessary.

Finance global health R&D as a public good by building on the unprecedented international scientific collaboration around COVID-19 to create a sustainable, coordinated global R&D financing and delivery mechanism to facilitate rapid R&D for epidemic-risk and novel diseases and ensure that every country has an affordable and reliable pathway to secure vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other medical countermeasures for health emergencies when they need them.

Unfortunately (although not surprisingly), the request for a high-level summit was stripped from the omnibus COVID-19 resolution passed by this year’s UN General Assembly, a casualty of the highly polarized geopolitical environment. But advocates should not be deterred.  Such a summit to prioritize pandemics as a grave global security threat, secure high-level political commitments, and drive a new international consensus and accountability is the right call to action.  The Pandemic Action Network and our partners will be pressing world leaders to convene this summit before the end of 2021―this should happen as soon as possible after the Independent Panel on Preparedness and Response delivers its report to the World Health Assembly next May.  To ensure this results in meaningful change by governments and international institutions, the planning should get underway now.

Does this year’s GPMB report have a better chance than its predecessor to convince policymakers to act?  I am cautiously optimistic, for two reasons. First, its warning is no longer hypothetical. The COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding before our eyes, with no end yet in sight, and it looks likely to get worse before it gets better as we see resurgences around the globe and flu season gets underway.  If there was ever a time that political leaders may be open to do something, this should be it.

Second, we now have a global advocacy effort focused on preparedness to take up these calls for action and hold national and global leaders to account.  GPMB co-chair As Sy, the former Secretary-General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said we need “a global movement of solidarity” committed to inclusion, partnership and compassion to make the world safer from pandemics.  The Pandemic Action Network is dedicated to growing this movement: In a few short months we have brought together more than 40 organizations with global reach to drive collective action to end this pandemic and help prevent the next one.  And we are just getting started.

At the GPMB report launch, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “If we do not learn these lessons now and take the steps necessary, when will we? This will not be the last pandemic or global health emergency.  Every day we stand by and do nothing is another day we come closer to the next disaster.  We don’t know what it will be, but we know it will come―and we must prepare.  When it comes to preparedness, our biggest obstacle is ourselves.”

The warnings are crystal clear. So, will leaders listen this time and do what is required to prepare for the next pandemic? The Pandemic Action Network is here to make sure they do.  Join us!

A hopeful EU Speech, a Disappointing G20 Communique – And Opportunities Ahead

By Eloise Todd, Co-Founder Pandemic Action Network

Following the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board’s report launch on Monday, this week also saw the European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen give her first State of the Union speech to a masked up, socially distanced European Parliamentary chamber and the G20 Joint Finance & Health Ministers’ meeting published their conclusions. What happened?

First, President von der Leyen’s speech on 16 September. Here are five announcements that could help the fight for a better prepared world and an equitable COVID-19 response:

1. Get ready for a Global Health Summit in 2021 focusing on lessons learned from this crisis. It will be co-hosted by the EU and the Italian G20 Presidency. President von der Leyen said “we need to strengthen our crisis preparedness and management of cross-border health threats.” The fact that this issue will be a priority for the Italian Presidency of the G20 is another huge plus.

2.The EC also wants the WHO changed “by design – not by destruction” to help build “a strong World Health Organisation that can better prepare and respond to global pandemics or local outbreaks – be it Corona or Ebola.” The WHO needs this kind of constructive approach towards reform.

3. Stronger EU health agencies – and a brand new ‘BARDA’. The European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will both be strengthened, and a brand new European agency will be created too – a Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA) – to build Europe’s pandemic preparedness capacity and respond to cross- border threats and emergencies (from nature or terrorism).

4. No to vaccine nationalism, yes to vaccine cooperation, said the President loudly and clearly: “safe vaccines are available not only for those who can afford it – but for everyone who needs it.” The EU will have to walk the walk on this in its own vaccine dealings. The COVAX Facility was also mentioned, along with the €400mn the Commission pledged just last week – and the President surely knows that the EC will need to do more in the coming months to help close the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A)’s $38bn funding gap.

5. Last but definitely not least, the President carefully raised “the question of health competences” – suggesting that during its upcoming review of the EU’s Treaty basis, the Conference on the Future of Europe examine the powers the EU has on health policy in times of crisis. If the EU leads such a reform, it could open up Europe’s ability to act as a unit across the Union and possibly multilaterally in times of crisis.

Second, on 17 September was the G20 Ministerial outcome, which by contrast majored on warm words and not in concrete commitments. We are disappointed with the outcome, and have laid out three key points that need to be converted from abstract notions to clear directives in time for the G20 Leaders’ Summit in November:

The Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) were called upon to “swiftly consider ways to strengthen the financial support for countries’ access to COVID-19 tools.” The urgency of this support cannot be overstated; there is a $38bn funding gap in the ACT-A – $15bn of which must be found this year and the remaining secured by the end of the first quarter of 2021. Help from the MDBs is much needed – and the same kind of innovation by multilateral institutions that has helped countries deal with the impact of COVID-19 at home needs to be deployed to ensure an equitable crisis response.

Pandemic preparedness needs to shift from words to action. The communique included the Ministers “taking note” of developments, “looking forward” to the work of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (which will not release its report until next May), and many other noncommittal statements. For inspiration as to concrete policies to pursue, they should read my colleague Carolyn Reynolds (Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies’s J. Stephen Morrison’s piece on what the IPPR should do on pandemic preparedness.

There is still time for the G20 to make a difference. Ministers are updating the G20 Action Plan which will be presented at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting in October 2020, and then to the Leaders’ Summit itself in November. At the Pandemic Action Network we will be coordinating with our brilliant partners to ensure the Action Plan prioritizes strong and necessary measures to prevent and prepare our world for future outbreaks.

Leaders across the world need to move with urgency and speed to deliver concrete actions to make sure we end COVID-19 equitably and swiftly across the world, and take the actions needed on preparedness and prevention to make sure this can never happen again. If your organization wants to join the fight, please get in touch today. We have no time to lose.

 

Advice to the Independent Panel on Preparedness and Response

The planet is only nine months into the Covid-19 pandemic, yet the scramble has begun to digest the lessons learned and prescribe corrective actions. Earlier this week, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board and the Lancet COVID-19 Commission each weighed in with recommendations. Eyes are now on the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), announced by the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to the Covid-19 resolution approved by WHO member states in May. This week, the panel initiates its work with an ambitious timeline to submit interim findings to the next meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) in November and a final report next May.

Pandemic Action Network co-founder Carolyn Reynolds joins Steve Morrison, Senior Vice President and Director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to provide advice to the Panel on how it can have the most impact on making the world safer from pandemics. Read their commentary here: https://www.csis.org/analysis/advice-independent-panel-pandemic-preparedness-and-response

The Wrong Decision for America and the World

July 14, 2020
By Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network

The wrong decision for America and the world

Last week, the Administration took the first formal step to initiate the US withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO). This decision will have huge negative consequences for America and the world – never more so than in the middle of a global pandemic.

Under the terms of the 1948 joint resolution of Congress authorizing membership in the WHO, there are two conditions for a US withdrawal: a one-year notice – on which the clock is now ticking – and full payment of outstanding US financial obligations, or assessed contributions, which currently total $203 million – $120 million for Fiscal Year 2020 and $83 million unpaid from Fiscal Year 2019.

More than ever, America needs the WHO, and the WHO needs America – its largest donor and most powerful member. Here is a brief look at how membership in the WHO serves America’s interests:

First, the pandemic has laid bare how infectious disease outbreaks anywhere in the world can quickly spread and put American lives and livelihoods at risk. Until there is a vaccine, no country will be safe. Ending the pandemic requires a united global effort, in which WHO plays an indispensable role. From providing technical guidance on proven public health interventions to coordinating international efforts to accelerate research, development and universal access to a COVID vaccine and therapeutics, countries around the world trust WHO and rely on its expertise to lead the COVID-19 response. The WHO-coordinated Action for Covid Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and Solidarity Trial are unprecedented global efforts that will increase the likelihood of ending the pandemic faster.

Second, WHO has led global efforts to combat a host of other infectious disease threats. The eradication of smallpox in 1980, which killed an estimated 300 million people in the 20th century, is one of WHO’s greatest achievements. With sustained WHO leadership, the world is now extremely close to eradicating polio, down to just 176 cases worldwide in 2019. US political support and funding has been vital to this effort, and withdrawal could stall efforts to end this debilitating scourge to humanity. International efforts to fight influenza, HIV/AIDS, malaria, measles, and tuberculosis all depend heavily on the WHO – with US cooperation and funding – for support.

Third, WHO provides the backbone for the world’s infectious disease early warning system. Working closely with experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and the Agency for International Development, and through the Joint External Evaluations and oversight of the technical support, WHO helps governments assess their preparedness gaps and mobilize early detection and response efforts. US withdrawal will hobble WHO’s capacity and leave a major hole in our common global defense to pandemic threats, which are on the rise.

As of this writing, several Members of Congress (not enough!) had spoken up against the decision, among them retiring Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN):

“Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it. Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need. And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States. If the administration has specific recommendations for reforms of the WHO, it should submit those recommendations to Congress, and we can work together to make those happen.”

Both WHO and the US have many lessons to learn from this pandemic. WHO’s emergency response capacity has improved considerably in recent years, but there’s widespread consensus that additional reforms are needed. In May, WHO member states approved a resolution to conduct an impartial, independent and comprehensive review, and WHO Director-General Tedros announced that Former Liberian President and Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark will co-chair the panel. Among the many issues they will need to examine is WHO’s funding model and its limited ability to compel member states to act, including review of the International Health Regulations. The reality is that WHO is only as effective as its members allow it to be – and particularly its largest donor.

The health and security case for US membership and support for WHO is clear – and leaving WHO or trying to set up an alternative body will only serve to further erode US influence on the global stage. The decision to withdraw could be revoked at any time before the one-year deadline; presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has said that if he were to become President he would reverse the decision on day one. But this should never be a partisan issue.  The US should stay in and use its might to ensure a stronger WHO – to end this pandemic and help prevent the next one.