With many countries beginning mass vaccinations against the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, and many other organizations that found themselves in the middle of it all have started to take stock of that damage and the losses it has caused around the world.
An interim report, describes how so many governments and public health organizations responded slowly and ineffectively at the start of the pandemic, despite years of warnings. It included missteps by the WHO itself.
“We failed in our collective capacity to come together in solidarity to create a protective web of human security,” said the report, written by an Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, led by former prime minister Helen Clark of New Zealand.
Governments failed to obtain protective equipment and do widespread contact tracing, the panel said. Investigators, it added, could not understand why a WHO committee waited until January 30 to declare an international health emergency.
There had been decades of predictions that a viral epidemic was inevitable but the WHO itself failed to enact fundamental changes despite the warnings, the report said. Public health authorities around the world also responded slowly to the warnings. In far too many countries, the danger signals were ignored.
In New York City, United States, an analysis by Pro Publica, a nonprofit news organization, said that by June in 2020, about 200 nurses nationwide had died from the coronavirus and 67 of them were Filipinos. Filipino-American nurses have been in New York City hospitals for decades . especially in the 1980s when staffing shortages were exacerbated by the AIDS epidemic at that time, the report said.
In the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Filipino- American workers have suffered some of the most staggering losses, Pro Publica said. One of the largest Filipino enclaves on the East Coast is in Queens, New York City, and northern New Jersey, and nearly a quarter of workers in hospitals and other medical fields there are of Filipino ancestry.
The pandemic is far from over in the world, and certainly not in the US, where its spread may have been abetted by a federal administration that in the beginning had called it a hoax being perpetrated by the political opposition. But the US was not alone in failing to act decisively on the threat. To this day, the virus continues to spread in many countries. The vaccines now being used have only emergency use approval as they have yet to complete their final human tests which normally takes years.
But this early, the WHO is preparing its report on the difficulties faced by the frontline doctors, nurses, and medical technologists – so many of whom were Filipinos — who lacked enough personal protective equipment for themselves along with medicine and facilities for their patients. The report, WHO said, will serve as a blueprint for reforms that will later be carried out so the world will be better prepared for the next pandemic.