On the 14th of September the Health Working Group of the Helsinki Policy Forum met online to discuss how the experience of Covid-19 can help with preparations for future pandemics. Participants are senior government officials and health experts from across Europe and the Gulf-MENA region.

Participants agreed that Covid-19 is both an economic and health crisis, which has exposed that without health, economic growth and security are impossible. As such spending on healthcare needs to be seen as a long-term investment, rather than expenditure.

Participants also discussed the importance of increasing vaccine equity from an economic perspective. Vaccinating all low-income countries against Covid-19 is estimated to cost approximately USD $66 bn – a significant amount. Yet the cost to the world economy in 2020-2021 is likely to be almost USD $10.3 trn in forgone output, of which USD $2 trn will come from the Eurozone and USD $1.7 trn from the United States. Research by GAVI demonstrates that highly successful vaccine rollouts in wealthier countries will not fully protect them from the economic consequences of Covid. Even if the U. S, Canada, Europe, and Japan fully vaccinate their entire populations, they will shoulder almost half the burden of continued disruptions to global trade. Accordingly wealthier nations stand to gain almost as much economically as low and middle-income countries by ensuring a faster and more equitable rollout of vaccines.

Numerous other recommendations were identified by participants that will be shared amongst the Forum.

Several recent reports relevant for policymakers in their efforts to combat Covid-19 and to prepare for future pandemics were cited in discussions: