Pandemic response costs 500 times more than pandemic preparedness

Experts warn that costly pandemic responses could be our new normal. But they don’t have to be. 

COVID-19 has already infected over 2 million people. The human and economic impacts of this pandemic are almost unfathomable. That’s why we teamed up with Humphrey Yang (@humphreytalks) to show the difference pandemic preparedness can make. 

Humphrey blew us away with his TikTok demonstrating the difference between $1 million and $1 billion. So we used that same method to visualise the difference between what it costs to prepare for a pandemic versus what it costs to respond to a pandemic. The results are astounding. Take a look: 

@humphreytalksTrue Cost of a Pandemic in 🍚: what we’re supposed to spend vs. what’s been pledged to fight COVID 19! ##covid19 ##pandemic ##rice♬ original sound – humphreytalks

The world should be investing about US$10 billion annually in pandemic preparedness. This amounts to $1 per person in the world’s wealthiest countries, and $1.69 per person in the world’s poorest counties.  This funding would help ensure that every country has the systems in place to prevent, detect, and respond to an outbreak. Because, as COVID-19 has demonstrated, none of us are safe unless all of us are safe.   

In contrast, the world has poured US$5 trillion (so far!) into the COVID-19 response. That’s 500 times the cost of investing in pandemic preparedness. 

At ONE, we are asking world leaders to support the emergency response to COVID-19. And many individuals, countries, and international organisations are rightly stepping up to stop the spread and mitigate the impact of the pandemic. 

But when it comes to pandemics, the idiom “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is particularly fitting; an effective response relies on good preparation. And it’s safe to say that COVID-19 will not be the last epidemic we see in our lifetime. So we must be sure that the global response to COVID-19 also helps us prepare for the next health threat. This will require resources for health systems strengthening year-in and year-out even after the immediate threat of COVID-19 subsides. 

As Humphry’s TikTok clearly shows, investing in preparedness can help save money, and more importantly help save lives. We are ONE World and it’s time to fight for humanity and against viruses today and in the future. Join us and sign our petition calling on world leaders to demand a global response to coronavirus. 

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