Independent Panel To Evaluate Global COVID-19 Pandemic Response, Including WHO’s Actions
WHO experts poised to announce details of independent evaluation of global COVID-19 response

An independent evaluation of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, including steps taken by the World Health Organization, will be led by former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark and former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The former world leaders will co-chair and Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), the World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced Thursday at a virtual meeting of Member States.

The establishment of the panel follows through on a resolution passed at the 73rd World Health Assembly, which called for WHO to initiate an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the international response to COVID-19.

The new IPPR will operate independently of WHO’s Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies programme, which will be continuing its own line of work.

Dr Tedros proposed that the two co-chairs select the other members of the Panel.

A Special Session of the Executive Board be called in September to discuss the Panel’s progress. The Panel will present an interim report at the resumption of the World Health Assembly in November.

In January 2021, the Executive Board will hold its regular session, where the Panel’s work will be further discussed; and in May of next year, at the World Health Assembly, the panel will present its substantive report.

While the IPPR overtakes a comprehensive overview, Dr Tedros said that the agency is already reviewing “low hanging fruit” such as universal peer review, and the binary mechanism for declaring a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) under the International Health Regulations.

Critics have claimed that one of WHO’s missteps was declaring a PHEIC days late at the start of the pandemic. the IHR committee had been deadlocked on whether to declare a PHEIC during the first meeting, leading WHO to declare a PHEIC a week later. Even in January, Dr Tedros had proposed moving towards a “stop-light” warning system, rather than maintaining a binary system for declaring a PHEIC.