Nearly 18 million deaths from Covid-19 around the world show how wrong the decisions made during the pandemic were: multilateralism did not have a plan and countries failed at all levels. Many governments opted to play politics irresponsibly, while the laboratories maximized their profits and, instead of developing vaccines as a public good, turned fiscal resources into wealth for a few hands.
On the one hand, the SARS-CoV-2 it showed some of the worst aspects of humanity. Among them, the opacity that prevents studying the origin of the pandemic, the ridiculous nationalism that hindered the exchange of information, and the exacerbated individualism that accelerated contagion in various regions. On the other hand, there were also voices that managed to highlight the best of human beings and the possibility of better rebuilding our planet, people who sought answers in science and solidarity. Without a doubt, Jeffrey Sachs and Richard Horton have been examples of this.
Jeffrey Sachs is a renowned economist, prominent writer and global leader in the design of development policies; he also directs the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and has been a special adviser to the UN Secretary General since 2001. Richard Horton is the Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal The Lancet, founded since 1823, with the aim of making science accessible and medicine transforming our societies and positively impacting people’s lives.
Sachs convened 28 global multidisciplinary experts in July 2020 to form the Lancet Commission on the covid-19 pandemic. I owe him for being part of this distinguished group, in which I had the opportunity to work with professionals of the stature of Peter J. Hotez and María Elena Bottazzi (who, in addition to having invented the Corbevax vaccine, decided to release its patent for what have been nominated for the Nobel Prize), María Fernanda Espinosa (President of the 73rd General Assembly of the UN) and Vaira Vike-Freiberga (Latvia’s first female president), among others.
From the beginning we established four crucial objectives: to develop recommendations on how to overcome the pandemic; delve into alternatives to address the humanitarian crisis; study the economic and financial crisis that would come as a consequence of the health crisis; and define the reconstruction of a more inclusive, fair and sustainable world. Additionally, we created 12 working groups that addressed different aspects of the pandemic.
With Vaira Vike-Freiberga Y George Laryea Adjei I co-chaired the working group dedicated to improving policies for people and communities in conditions of vulnerability. We have committed members and a talented team with whom we achieved the publication of our proposals in The Lancet, thus promoting universal health coverage and social protection systems.
Very little was known about SARS-CoV-2 when the commissioners started working that summer, the countries were practically closed and we saw terrifying images in the media. The first step was to coordinate the logistical aspects that seemed complex, such as doing all the work virtually to minimize our impact on the environment and organize our schedules to coincide in meetings despite the different latitudes. Our dialogues were as interesting as intense and passionate; in them there was no censorship or taboos, but the greatest transparency.
A few days ago we published our Final report that synthesizes the findings and recommendations for the future. Today we know what the correct responses are and how to prepare for new emergencies. We just need the leadership and political will to implement solutions for the benefit of the people, especially the most vulnerable.
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