The World Health Organization (WHO) chief warned Monday that COVID-19 is a harbinger of future global health emergencies, and called for political and financial investments to prevent pandemics.
"This will not be the last pandemic, nor the last global health emergency," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the launch of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) 2020 report.
"We do not know what the next health emergency will be, but we know it will come. And we must be prepared."
Tedros' speech came as the world surpassed 29 million cases with 924,953 confirmed deaths and nearly 19.7 million recoveries from COVID-19, according to the US’ Johns Hopkins University.
The WHO also reported a record one-day rise in infections at some 308,000.
The GPMB is an independent monitoring and accountability body to ensure preparedness for global health crises.
Tedros said humanity has a shared responsibility to leave the world better prepared for the next pandemic.
He said that the COVID-19 pandemic had taken a massive toll on lives and livelihoods, disrupting health systems, economies, and societies.
"Even countries with advanced health systems and powerful economies have been overwhelmed," said Tedros.
But many of the countries that did well were those that learned from previous outbreaks like SARS, MERS, H1N1, Ebola, and others.
"We can no longer wring our hands and say something must be done," said the WHO chief.
Without learning the lessons now and taking the necessary steps to make the world safer, Tedros asked, "When will we?"
He said, “We do not know what the next health emergency will be, but we know it will come. And we must be prepared.”