7. About the Panel and its work

The Independent Panel has worked steadily to fulfil its vision to be trusted as an independent, evidence-based, impartial, respectful and diverse body the world can rely on to make bold recommendations which help safeguard every person’s health, economic and social well-being.

The mission of the Panel has been to provide an evidence-based path for the future, grounded in lessons of the present and the past to ensure that countries and global institutions, including WHO, can prevent an outbreak from becoming a pandemic; and if a pandemic occurs, to prevent that from becoming a global health and socioeconomic crisis.

The members of the Independent Panel are: Co-Chair HE Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Co-Chair the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, Mauricio Cárdenas, Aya Chebbi, Mark Dybul, Michel Kazatchkine, Joanne Liu, Precious Matsoso, David Miliband, Thoraya Obaid, Preeti Sudan, Zhong Nanshan and Ernesto Zedillo.
A group photo of the members of the Indepedent Panel

The Panel’s Co-Chairs, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and Nobel Laureate, and the Right Honourable Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, were appointed by the Director-General. The Co-Chairs were then mandated to select panellists, establish their terms of reference and recruit an independent Secretariat. The Co-Chairs announced the full membership of the Panel on 3 September 2020.

The Panel comprises people with the experiences and expertise to focus on pandemics, health and the broader impacts of COVID-19. Their mix of skills and expertise covers a wide range of areas including infectious disease, global and national health policy and financing, public administration, outbreaks and emergencies, economics, youth advocacy and the well-being of women and girls. Panellists also share knowledge of the international system, including WHO, and other relevant international processes.

The Panel was charged with reviewing the spread, actions and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, compile facts, distil lessons and make evidence-based recommendations to ensure countries and global institutions, including WHO, can more effectively address health threats.

The Panel has taken a systematic, rigorous and comprehensive approach to its work and has placed an emphasis on listening and learning from others. Since mid-September, the Panel has conducted numerous literature reviews, its own original research, has learned from dozens of experts in round-table discussions and in-depth interviews, has heard directly from people working on the front line of the pandemic in town-hall style meetings, and has invited contributions from anyone wishing to make one. The Panel have benefited from interactions with the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, the IHR Review Committee and the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee. The Panel has met formally six times, and several times in subgroups to discuss specific areas.

The Independent Panel has valued openness and transparency throughout, publishing news summaries and meeting reports shortly after each meeting. The Secretariat has operated in an open-door manner and welcomed conversations with anyone who has wished to speak to it.

At its second meeting on 20–21 October 2020, the Panel established a Program of Work, which includes four interconnected themes: to build on the past by learning from previous epidemics and pandemics, including the extent to which lessons and recommendations from these have been applied; review the present, examining why and how COVID-19 became a global pandemic, including building an authoritative chronology of facts and actions by countries, regional and international actors; understand the impact of COVID-19 on people’s health and on health systems, including the role of communication and community resilience and the significant socioeconomic impact; and identify gaps in the international system recommend changes for the future.

The Program of Work laid out specific questions for review, and the Panel has studied these through:

Reporting to WHO's governing bodies

The Independent Panel reported to the WHO Executive Board Special Session on 5–6 October 2020, to the resumed 73rd World Health Assembly in November 2020, to the WHO Executive Board in January 2021; it will present this report to the Seventy-fourth World Health Assembly in May 2021.

Members of the Independent Panel

The members of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response are:

The Independent Panel has been supported by a Secretariat headed by Anders Nordstrom and including Alexandra Phelan, Celeste Canlas, Christine McNab, Helena Legido-Quigley, Jane Saville, Marjon Kamara, Mathias Bonk, Michael Bartos, Michael Dumiak, Mike Kalmus Eliasz, Nellie Bristol, Rosemary McCarney, Salma Abdalla and Shun Mabuchi. George Werner served as advisor to Co-Chair H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, together with Raj Panjabi until 31 January 2021, and Sudhvir Singh as advisor to Co-Chair the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark.

The Independent Panel documents

The Independent Panel published the following final documents in May 2021.

The main report

COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic
COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic Summary

The companion narrative

How an Outbreak Became a Pandemic: The defining moments of the COVID-19 pandemic

Background documents

  1. Learning from the past
  2. The Chronology
  3. From Science to Policy
  4. National and sub-national responses
  5. Access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics
  6. Scaling up Vaccine Production Capacity: Legal Challenge
  7. Access to Essential Supplies
  8. Impact on Essential Health Services
  9. The Social impact
  10. Community involvement
  11. Human Rights
  12. Understanding Communication
  13. The Economic impact
  14. International financing
  15. WHO – an institutional review
  16. International Treaties and Conventions