The entire world remains unprepared for the next pandemic and most countries are underprepared even for small outbreaks of disease, researchers reported Wednesday.
According to research there wasn’t a single country that scored well on the Global Health Security index, a measure of preparedness for various health emergencies and problems put together by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“The 2021 GHS Index continues to show that all countries still lack some critical capacities, which hinders their ability to respond effectively to COVID-19 and reduces their preparedness for future epidemic and pandemic threats,” the report reads. “The average country score in 2021 was 38.9 out of 100, which is essentially unchanged from 2019.”
The highest overall — just under 76 — was achieved by the United States.
“The global average for the prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens is 28.4 out of 100, making it the lowest-scoring category within the GHS Index,” the report reads.
It found that 113 countries “show little to no attention” to diseases transmitted from animals to humans.
“Leaders now have a choice,” said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo , senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “They can make dedicated, sustainable investments in the new capacities created during the Covid-19 response to prepare their countries for the long term, or they can fall back into the decades-long cycle of panic-and-neglect that will leave the world at grave risk for inevitable future public health threats.”
The report found that 155 out of the 195 countries in the survey have made no investment in preparing for a pandemic or epidemic within the past three years. More than 70% of countries have failed to invest in local clinics, hospitals and community health centers.
“Political and security risks have increased in nearly all countries, and those countries with the fewest resources have the highest risk and greatest preparedness gaps,” the group behind the index said in a statement.
The research also found the populations of 161 countries have low to moderate levels of public confidence in their governments.
The U.S. was the leading example of this, the report found.
“With more reported cases and more deaths than any other country, the United States’ poor response to the COVID-19 pandemic shocked the world,” the report read. “How could a country with so much capacity at the start of the pandemic have gotten its response so wrong?”
The findings show that even rich and seemingly prepared countries would most likely fail to contain a pandemic.
“The public must trust advice from health officials and not face hurdles, such as lost income, if protective recommendations are to be followed,” the report reads.