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Governments around the world “proved unreliable and ineffective” during the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in several million deaths and a “massive global failure,” wrote the Lancet COVID-19 Commission in a report released Wednesday.
“Too many governments have not adhered to the basic rules of institutional rationality and transparency, too many people, often influenced by disinformation, have disrespected and protested against basic public health precautions and the major world powers have failed to collaborate to control the pandemic, “wrote the jury of international experts.
The commission also urged the scientific community to step up research into the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19.
“The proximal origins of SARS-CoV-2 are not yet known,” the commission wrote. “Identifying these origins would provide greater clarity not only on the causes of the current pandemic, but also on vulnerabilities to future outbreaks and strategies to prevent them.”
SARS-CoV-2 could have zoonotic origins, meaning it emerged from a natural spillover event, such as an infection in a wet market.
The virus could also have a research-related origin, from infection by a scientist in the field, infection in the laboratory when studying a natural virus, or infection “when studying viruses that have been genetically manipulated,” according to the commission.
“Origins research requires impartial, independent, transparent and rigorous work by international teams in virology, epidemiology, bioinformatics and other related fields,” the commission wrote.
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At least 6.9 million deaths have been reported worldwide, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, but the actual number is likely to be around 17 million.
More than a million people have died in the United States alone, and about 350 Americans continue to die every day, according to the latest numbers from the CDC.
The World Health Organization responded to the Commission’s criticism on Wednesday, saying the report does not “convey the full span of WHO’s immediate, multi-year, life-saving response.”
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Last month, CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky ordered a reorganization of the agency to better prepare for future pandemics.
“For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19 and, in our big moment, our performance has not reliably met expectations,” he told employees, according to a statement obtained by the Washington Post. “My goal is a new public health action-oriented culture at the CDC that emphasizes accountability, collaboration, communication and timeliness.”