Coronavirus (812) The Lancet COVID-19 Commission

11 July, 2020

Citation, selected extracts and a comment from me below.

CITATION: Comment|online first

The Lancet COVID-19 Commission

Jeffrey D Sachs, Richard Horton, Jessamy Bagenal, Yanis Ben Amor, Ozge Karadag Caman, Guillaume Lafortune

Published: July 09, 2020


... The Lancet COVID-19 Commission has been created to help speed up global, equitable, and lasting solutions to the pandemic. The Commissioners join this effort in the shared belief that effective solutions can be found on the basis of global cooperation, social justice, sustainable development, and good governance that builds on public trust...

There are four core challenges that must be faced cooperatively worldwide. The first and over-riding challenge is to suppress the pandemic as rapidly and decisively as possible. The second is to meet the dire and pressing needs of vulnerable groups such as the poor, minorities, and elderly. The third is to prevent the public health emergency from turning into a fulminant financial crisis for governments, businesses, and households. The fourth challenge is to build the world back better, with resilient health systems, global institutions, and economies that are being transformed on the basis of sustainable and inclusive development...

The Lancet COVID-19 Commission is confident that this pandemic can be controlled decisively and justly through innovative, equitable, and globally cooperative strategies that are undertaken jointly by all nations and with the firm commitment to leave no one behind.


COMMENT (NPW): This introduction does not mention a critical issue: the COVID-19 infodemic, which we have discussed extensively here on HIFA. As Dr Tedros said: "We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as dangerous." And in thje same speech (Munich Security Conference February 2020) he noted: "The greatest enemy we face is not the virus itself; it’s the stigma that turns us against each other. We must stop stigma and hate!"

Misinformation and stigma should be included prominently in the remit for The Lancet COVID-19 Commission. Indeed, there is a strong case for a parallel commission specifically on these issues. COVID-19 will eventually be conquered. But infodemics and stigma will continue to get progressively worse with future global health emergencies, due to the increasing ubiquity of social media and their tendency to promote fringe groupthink, and thereby to generate and spread not only misinformation and stigma, but also, sadly, mistrust of public health authorities (and, some would argue, growing mistrust of science itself, governments and even democracy).

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: