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A global research panel released a report this week blaming the World Health Organization (WHO) and governments worldwide for serious failures in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, while also reviving disputed and controversial claims about the origins of the virus, the Washington Post reported.
The Lancet Covid-19 Commission published a 45-page editorial accusing many governments of being “untrustworthy and ineffective” as the pandemic tore across the world. The panel cited instances of countries hoarding vaccines and the leaders of major countries playing down the risks of the virus.
It also criticized the WHO for acting “too cautiously and too slowly” on urgent matters, such as recognizing the virus was spreading through airborne transmission.
The commission wrote that “globally coordinated efforts” could end the pandemic: These would include urging a sustained approach to mass vaccinations, as well as adopting health and social measures to mitigate the virus’ impact.
It recommended that the WHO should receive more funding and authority, including authorization to inspect and regulate facilities where scientists study and experiment on viruses that could spark potential pandemics.
The global health watchdog welcomed the findings and recommendations. Still, it warned of “several key omissions and misinterpretations,” saying the panel had wrongly characterized “the speed and scope of the WHO’s actions.”
While the commission’s report does not carry legal or regulatory weight, its recommendations underscore one of the highest-profile efforts to identify lessons from Covid-19 and how to better prepare for the next pandemic.
However, the report did not offer new scientific information about the virus and urged investigations into both the ‘natural-origins’ and ‘lab-leak’ theories. The latter theory, which suggests that the virus may have escaped from a laboratory and could even have man-made origins, has sparked controversy among scientists and health officials.
Jeffrey Sachs, who chaired the commission, has been a proponent of the lab-leak theory and his advocacy of it also caused friction among other panel members. The commission eventually reached a compromise about the wording of the final report.
Even so, the commission’s conclusions make no mention of two recently published papers that make the case that the pandemic began in a market in China, not a laboratory.