Report calls for investment to bolster pandemic preparedness

COVID-19 will likely be a forerunner of future catastrophic pandemics unless significant reforms are made

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London Business School's Professor Lucrezia Reichlin is a member of the G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (HLIP), which produced the report, ‘A Global Deal for Our Pandemic Age’.

The reports states that significant new investments and reforms need to be made in order to bolster global and national capacities for pandemic preparedness and rapid response. Unless such actions take place, COVID-19 is likely to chart the future of catastrophic pandemics.

The Panel’s report, which was presented at the recently staged third G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Venice, calls on the international community to move swiftly to close current shortfalls in the international COVID-19 response.

"Scaling up pandemic preparedness cannot wait until COVID-19 is over. The threat of future pandemics is already with us," it states.

The Panel calls for a public funding increase in international financing of at least US$75 billion over the next five years, or US$15 billion per year, to plug major gaps in pandemic prevention and preparedness.

The four pressing preparedness gaps identified by the Panel are: infectious disease surveillance, resilience of national health systems, global capacity to supply and deliver vaccines and other medical countermeasures, and global governance. Future pandemic risks can be substantially reduced if these gaps are addressed.

The Panel highlights that the needed investments are larger than what the international community has been willing to spend in the past, but negligible compared to costs of another major pandemic. The costs to government budgets alone from pandemics are up to 700 times larger than the annual additional international investments proposed by the Panel.

The additional US$15 billion per year of international financing in global public goods for prevention and preparedness includes a key proposal to establish a new US$10 billion annual Global Health Threats Fund plus US$5 billion a year to increase funding of existing international institutions, including to strengthen the World Health Organization (WHO) and create dedicated pandemic preparedness concessional financing windows in the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs).

The Panel also calls for the creation of a new Global Health Threats Board, which would bring together Finance and Health Ministers and International Organizations to provide systemic financial oversight and ensure timely and effective resourcing and coordination of international efforts to mitigate pandemic threats.

The group stress the imperative for all nations to prioritize and sustain domestic investments in pandemic preparedness over time. Low- and middle-income countries would need to add about 1% of Gross Domestic Product to public spending on health over the next five years, complemented by increased support from multilateral and bilateral financing partners.

More about this initiative and to download the full report, 'A Global Deal for Our Pandemic Age'.