World Health Organization officials looked back on the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic during a news briefing in Geneva on Thursday, the six-month mark of Covid-19 being declared a public health emergency of international concern.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said that the global response can be characterized as mixed.
“We really saw countries that took an aggressive approach – countries that took an all of government, comprehensive approach – really see some success in the beginning of trying to combat this,” Van Kerkhove said.
Countries that have had previous experience with infectious diseases, such as SARS, avian influenza and MERS, “really saw the threat, really knew the threat of this,” she said.
Countries that didn’t act as fast have also been able to turn things around, Van Kerkhove said, as have countries that had very difficult outbreaks, such as the Republic of Korea, Italy, Spain and Germany.
These countries were able to implement the comprehensive approach to public health measures, where it was “all of government, all of society, engaging their public, informing their public” and using tools that are known to suppress transmission and save lives if they are implemented.
“I think what we need to do going forward is look at how we can be more efficient in our response. How can everyone be more efficient in the tools that we apply, so that we don’t have to go into large lockdown, or so-called lockdown measures,” Van Kerkhove said. “That we can tailor the approach to the geographic area, and to the transmission area where it’s needed.”