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New Delhi, May 6 – World leaders must now learn from the last three years of the pandemic and make structural changes in global health, else we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of this pandemic in the next, experts said on Saturday.
After three long gruelling years of Covid-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday declared that the pandemic is no longer a public health emergency.
Responding to the WHO’s declaration, Dr Mohga Kamal-Yanni, Policy co-lead for the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said that Covid may no longer be classified as the highest level of international emergency, but the virus has not gone away.
“There are billions of people in developing countries who still cannot access affordable Covid-19 tests and treatments. They need action from governments to remove the intellectual property barriers that prevent the widespread production of generic medicines,” Kamal-Yanni added.
She said that pharmaceutical companies are the biggest winners, achieving the biggest profit from a single medical product in history, while people died without access.
“The institutions set up to support developing countries, like COVAX and ACT-A, failed to involve developing countries in their creation or decision-making, and failed to deliver an equitable response. For future pandemics, preparation and response must be led by the Global South, instead of creating more global platforms dominated by donors,” she emphasised.
Covid-19 was declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) in January 2020. About six weeks later it was characterised as a pandemic. The deadly disease has to date infected over 763 million and claimed more than 6.9 million lives globally.
Kamal-Yanni said that people in developing countries should never again wait for the “good will” of rich countries, nor the charitable actions of pharmaceutical companies.
“The world needs transformative commitments in the Pandemic Treaty and International Health Regulations to ensure knowledge and technology are shared, remove intellectual property barriers, and to support medical research and manufacturing in developing countries,” she added.