World dangerously unprepared for next pandemic: research
The world is not prepared to face another pandemic. That was the upshot of the Global Health Security Index, which analyzed the ability of 195 countries to prepare themselves to address future epidemics and pandemics.
The 2021 index found that “all countries remain dangerously unprepared for future epidemic and pandemic threats, including threats potentially more devastating than COVID-19.”
Despite spending almost two years grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the index showed that the average country health security score was 38.9 out of 100 in 2021, that figure was essentially the same in 2019.
“A great opportunity exists, however, to make new capacities more durable to further long-term gains in preparedness,” said the report, from the global security group NTI (Nuclear Threat Initiative) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Economist Impact.
The report added that most countries had not made financial investments to improve their pandemic preparedness and lacked a health system for outbreak detection and response. It added that countries neglecting vulnerable groups of people could also worsen “health security emergencies.”
The U.S. ranked at the top of the index overall, but the country also ranked lowest on public confidence in government.
“Over nearly two years, U.S. politicians have questioned the motives and messages of health officials and debated the seriousness of the virus and the effectiveness and safety of vaccines,” the report said. “The result: in many areas of the country, people have been unwilling to comply with public health recommendations that would slow the spread of the virus.”
As the world continues to combat COVID-19, the new omicron variant has been of increasing concern.
But the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, noted recently that cases of the omicron variant in the U.S. have been relatively mild thus far. CDC officials also said that no deaths have been reported from omicron and only one person has been hospitalized thus far.
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