IIn the first two years of the pandemic, there were “widespread failures” in prevention, transparency, basic public health practices, as well as international cooperation and solidarity, criticized a commission of inquiry put together by the respected specialist magazine “Lancet”. She assumes that a significant part of the estimated 17.7 million deaths could have been avoided by Covid-19. This is "both a harrowing tragedy and a massive global failure on many levels," she writes in their final report.
Most national governments were unprepared, did not adequately limit the spread of Covid-19 through testing, contact tracing and isolation, and provided insufficient support to vulnerable groups, says the 28-strong expert group led by New York economist Jeffrey Sachs. She sees an exception in countries in the western Pacific region: Based on previous experiences with the SARS pathogen almost twenty years ago, they acted quickly and forcefully and significantly reduced the total number of deaths through strategies to prevent infections - this approach is also related to mental health better than the course known as "flatten the curve", where the spread is only intended to be limited. The fact that many governments lifted measures such as wearing masks or restrictions on contacts in March 2022 was premature.
WHO acted “too cautiously and too slowly”
But containment of the pandemic also failed due to a lack of international cooperation: For example, when developing recommendations on how to minimize the spread of the virus during international travel, when it came to testing strategies, social measures, as well as those of public health and data collection standards. The World Health Organization also has to take harsh criticism here WHO plug in – they acted “too cautiously and too slowly on important issues”. She communicated too late that the virus can be transmitted from person to person and did not declare the warning level of a “health emergency of international scope” early enough. As with the outbreak in Wuhan, to which Chinese authorities hardly reacted for a long time, delays of a few days would have “enabled a significant global spread of the virus”. According to the experts, the WHO should have advised more caution when traveling from China to other countries. She should have recommended wearing masks earlier - she recognized too late that the virus spreads via aerosols.
Pandemic control has been severely hampered “by significant public opposition to routine public health measures” such as vaccination and mask-wearing, writes the commission, whose work is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and an Azerbaijani organization became. The experts explain this with a lack of trust in government recommendations, contradictory communication and low health literacy, as well as “extensive misinformation and disinformation campaigns on social media”. To a significant extent, these problems could have been avoided if the expertise of the behavioral and social sciences had been incorporated into government strategies to deal with the pandemic: "Human behavior is central to the transmission of the disease and the suppression of the pandemic."
Social differences have deepened
The team of experts also focuses on the fact that the unequally distributed effects of the pandemic on different parts of the population have not been adequately addressed, but have actually increased the differences. Many systemically relevant workers, who often belong to disadvantaged, low-income groups anyway, were heavily burdened - as were people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, children, women affected by school closures or prison inmates. Indigenous people and those fleeing are also particularly at risk.