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About the Independent Panel

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response began its work in September 2020. The Panel completed its main report, Covid-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, and presented it to the 74th World Health Assembly in May 2021.

The Independent Panel was established by the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General in response to the World Health Assembly resolution 73.1.

The mission of the Independent Panel was to provide an evidence-based path for the future, grounded in lessons of the present and the past to ensure countries and global institutions, including specifically WHO, effectively address health threats.

It did so by providing a fresh assessment of the challenges ahead, based on insights and lessons learned from the health response to COVID-19 as coordinated by WHO as well as previous health emergencies.

The sections below describe the Panel’s areas of focus, ways of working, meeting schedule and Secretariat. More information about The Independent Panel’s work and processes are available on the Questions and Answers page.

Areas of Focus

As per WHA Resolution 73.1, the Independent Panel reviewed experiences gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19 including:

  • the effectiveness of the mechanisms at WHO’s disposal;
  • the functioning of the International Health Regulations (2005) and the status of implementation of the relevant recommendations of previous IHR Review Committees;
  • WHO’s contribution to United Nations-wide efforts; and the actions of WHO and their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Independent Panel made recommendations on how to improve capacity for global pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, including through strengthening, as appropriate, the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

The Panel’s Program of Work built on the areas of focus of the WHA resolution and its Terms of Reference. The Program of Work was organized around four main interconnected themes for enquiry: 

  1. Build on the past: Learn from previous pandemics and the status of the system and actors pre-COVID-19. 
  2. Review the present: Analyse the accurate chronology of events and activities in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the recommendations made by WHO, and the responses by national governments.
  3. Understand the Impacts: Review how health systems and communities responded and assess the direct and indirect impacts of both the pandemic and the response measures.
  4. Change for the future: An analysis and vision for a strengthened international system ideally equipped for pandemic preparedness and response.

A variety of research methods and stakeholder engagement strategies were employed by the Independent Panel to pursue this work. These included mapping existing reviews, desk research, in-depth interviews, expert consultations, commissioning papers on key topics, case studies, town-hall style “Exchange” meetings, and calls for contributions through the website.

Ways of Working

The Independent Panel conducted an impartial, independent, and comprehensive review. Panelists drew from their expertise and experiences and did not represent their institutions or governments. 

The Independent Panel was financed from WHO’s assessed contributions. The Panel did not accept additional contributions in cash or in kind. Panel members made their contributions on a voluntary and non-remunerated basis.

The Independent Panel valued working in an open and transparent manner. It heard many different stakeholders’ perspectives, including those of WHO Member States, civil society, academia, professional associations, the private sector and the general public. Data and evidence guided the work of the Independent Panel.  

Meetings and Reporting

The Panel met approximately every six weeks, and met formally six times beginning on 17 September 2020. Due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, these meetings all occurred virtually.

The Independent Panel reported in the following ways:

Reports and other documents related to these meetings are all available on this website.

The Secretariat

The Independent Panel was supported by its own independent Secretariat, based on the Geneva Health Campus.

The Secretariat prepared  Panel meetings, produced and commissioned analytical reports and research at the request of the Panel, proactively maintained communication with and on behalf of the Co-Chairs and Panel, and provided day-to-day monitoring and follow-up on Panel priorities and recommendations.

The Head of the Secretariat was Anders Nordström, who took leave as Ambassador for Global Health at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs for the duration of the Independent Panel.

Secretariat Members

Anders Nordström
Head of Secretariat

Salma Abdalla

Michael Bartos
Lead Editor

Mathias Bonk
Project Management Officer

Celeste Canlas
Project Officer

Marjon Kamara
Senior Advisor, External Relations

Helena Legido-Quigley

Shun Mabuchi

Rosemary McCarney
Senior Advisor, External Relations

Christine McNab
Communication Lead

Jane Saville
External Relations Officer

The Secretariat received additional support from:

George Kronnisanyon Werner
Advisor and Coordinator
Office of President Sirleaf, Co-Chair

Sudhvir Singh
Advisor to Rt Hon. Clark, Co-Chair

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