Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

A doctor checks the body temperature of a man returning from Iran at a quarantine zone to test for the coronavirus in the Pakistan-Iran border town of Taftan on February 25, 2020. An international panel called February 2020 a "lost month" during which the global community failed to work cooperatively to get the pandemic under control. (Photo by Banaras Khan / AFP via Getty Images)

A doctor checks the body temperature of a man returning from Iran at a quarantine zone to test for the coronavirus in the Pakistan-Iran border town of Taftan on February 25, 2020. An international panel called February 2020 a "lost month" during which the global community failed to work cooperatively to get the pandemic under control. (Photo by Banaras Khan / AFP via Getty Images)

Failed Leadership, Gross Inequality, and History of Ignored Warnings Allowed Pandemic's Deadly Spiral: Global Panel

"We have been warned. Let's not ignore again," said one member.

Julia Conley

A lack of global leadership, raging inequality, and lack of a functionary alert system were pinpointed as among the key failures as the Covid-19 outbreak took hold last year, an international panel announced in a new report released Wednesday.

The report—titled Covid-19: Make it the Last Pandemic (pdf)—warns fundamental changes must be made to defeat future pandemics.

Compiled by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), the study was the work of a 13-member committee formed last year as the coronavirus spread across the world.

"Preparation was inconsistent and underfunded," the official report summary (pdf) reads. "The alert system was too slow—and too meek. The World Health Organization was under-powered. The response has exacerbated inequalities. Global political leadership was absent."

"Preparation was inconsistent and underfunded. The alert system was too slow—and too meek. The World Health Organization was under-powered. The response has exacerbated inequalities. Global political leadership was absent."
—IPPPR

"The combination of poor strategic choices, unwillingness to tackle inequalities, and an uncoordinated system created a toxic cocktail which allowed the pandemic to turn into a catastrophic human crisis," the report adds.

As the world continues to battle the virus—including devastating situations in India, Nepal, and many other nations and regions without access to vaccines and other medical supplies—the IPPPR said the world must not miss a crucial opportunity for a course correction. 

The global community "must learn from this crisis, and plan for the next one," the experts said. "Otherwise, precious time and momentum will be lost...Covid-19 has been a terrible wake-up call. So now the world needs to wake up, and commit to clear targets, additional resources, new measures, and strong leadership to prepare for the future."

The report points to the slow response by the World Health Organization (WHO)—which was hampered by formal procedures under the International Health Regulations (IHR)—for allowing the pandemic to spread from Wuhan, China to the rest of the world in a matter of weeks in early 2020, calling February 2020 "a lost month."

A Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) should have been declared by WHO's Emergency Committee on January 22, 2020, instead of a week later, the panel said. When the PHEIC was finally declared, it "was not followed by forceful and immediate emergency responses in most countries, despite the mounting evidence that a highly contagious new pathogen was spreading around the world," and was also not accompanied by warnings of human-to-human transmission, as the WHO was still assessing how the pathogen was spread.

"The Panel's view is that [WHO] could also have told countries that they should take the precaution of assuming that human-to-human transmission was occurring," the IPPPR said.

The panel also noted that the pandemic, which laid bare inequalities around the globe and within individual countries as middle- and upper-class people were far more able to protect themselves from the virus as the working poor were often left to their own devices on the front lines of the crisis, was able to spread as far as it has because world leaders have been unwilling to tackle inequalities. 

"Building resilient and equitable societies requires a serious shift in mindsets. The extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities is an emphatic demonstration of the interconnectedness of social, economic, environmental, and political factors in society," the report states.

The panel urged governments to "increase the threshold of national health and social investments to build resilient health and social protection systems, grounded in high-quality primary and community health services, universal health coverage, and a strong and well-supported health workforce."

To help the Global South to prepare for another pandemic, the panel said wealthy countries should invest $5 billion to $10 billion annually in an International Pandemic Financing Facility, which would allow poor countries to stock up on personal protective equipment, testing supplies, and other infrastructure. 

Such investments are "not out of proportion to many things we do already," Mark Dybul, a physician at Georgetown University and member of the panel, told Science magazine.

Other recommendations include:

  • Empowering WHO "to investigate pathogens with pandemic potential in all countries with short-notice access to relevant sites, provision of samples, and standing multi-entry visas for international epidemic experts to outbreak locations," similar to the provisions which exist for the International Atomic Energy Agency;
  • Increasing WHO member states' fees to make up two-thirds of the agency's core budget;
  • Updates to all countries' pandemic preparedness plans, including the appointment of national pandemic coordinators, yearly simulation exercises, and investment in resilient healthcare systems; and
  • A pre-negotiated platform to produce vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutic treatments, and supplies—"shifting from a model where innovation is left to the market to a model aimed at delivering global public goods."

In the immediate term, recommendations include a waiver of intellectual property rights for vaccines that exist for Covid-19 "should come into force immediately" to ensure all countries can get current outbreaks under control. 

Miliband noted that previous global committees have made recommendations for pandemic preparedness—which have not been implemented.

"We have been warned. Let's not ignore again," he tweeted.

Implementation of the panel's recommendations "will put the world on course to ensure that this is the last pandemic causing devastation on the scale we are experiencing now," Sirleaf said Wednesday.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·


Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·


New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·


West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo