An international panel is offering a suite of recommendations to prevent the next pandemic — including a new global body of heads of state — but the effort’s leaders said more urgent than any single item is concerted international action before the window of opportunity pried open by COVID-19 closes.
“Don’t nitpick about the ideas. See the big picture here,” said David Miliband, International Rescue Committee president and chief executive officer. “I really believe that there’s a window here, which if we’re not careful will close. … We’ve had the most monumental warning from some combination of natural and man-made disasters. Next time it could be much worse. It could be more transmissible and more fatal.”
Miliband and two others involved in the effort, Joanne Liu, past president of Doctors Without Borders, and Anders Nordström, on leave from his post as ambassador for global health at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, said that the moment for action is now, before wealthy nations and their rapidly vaccinating populations put the pandemic behind them, along with the urgency about the need to avoid similar deaths, economic loss, and disruption of lives in the future.
“We owe that to the 3.6 million people who died, who died — most of them — alone,” said Liu. “It needs to happen now, and the window of attention is very short.”