In May 2021, the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness & Response (Independent Panel) presented its findings and recommendations for action to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure that future infectious disease outbreaks do not become catastrophic pandemics. This report is the culmination of eight months of work which began in September 2020. During this time, the Independent Panel examined why COVID-19 became a global health and socio-economic crisis.
In a comment in The Lancet, Independent Panel co-chairs HE Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Rt Hon. Helen Clark wrote: “COVID-19 exposed the extent to which pandemic preparedness was limited and disjointed, leaving health systems overwhelmed when actually confronted by a fast-moving and exponentially spreading virus. The panel’s conclusion is that closing the preparedness gap not only requires sustained investment, but also requires a new approach to measuring the leadership dimensions of preparedness and strengthened accountability in a system of universal periodic peer review of country preparedness.”
The Independent Panel’s key findings underscore “gaps and failings at every critical juncture of preparedness for, and in response to, COVID-19” which led to the initial outbreak becoming a pandemic. It further highlights strengths demonstrated during the current pandemic on which to build now and in the future. Finally, the Independent Panel makes two sets of recommendations (1) focusing on immediate actions to curb COVID-19 transmission and (2) those to transform the international system for pandemic preparedness and response to prevent future pandemics.