The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board has slammed political inaction ahead of the novel coronavirus pandemic this year, suggesting that proactively preparing for a pandemic would have cost just $5 per person per year, rather than the tens of trillions of dollars lost during this outbreak.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a collective failure to take pandemic prevention, preparedness and response seriously and prioritize it accordingly,” Gro Harlem Brundtland and Elhadj As Sy, co-chairs of the GPMB board, wrote in the introduction to a report released Monday.

The GPMB, co-convened by the World Bank and the World Health Organization, last year warned in a report that there was a “a very real threat of a rapidly moving, highly lethal pandemic of a respiratory pathogen” killing millions and “creating widespread havoc, instability and insecurity.”

But little was learned from that report or from other warnings about the risk of a pandemic, the board’s 2020 report concludes. “This lack of leadership is exacerbating the pandemic,” the report states.

Citing a $5 per person per annum figure that was reached by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, GPMB argues that investing in pandemic prevention ahead of time will be far cheaper than responding retroactively to pandemics.

“Expenditures for prevention and preparedness are measured in billions of dollars, the cost of a pandemic in trillions,” the report states. “It would take 500 years to spend as much on investing in preparedness as the world is losing due to COVID-19.”

The Washington Post

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