A new report from Johns Hopkins reveals concerning information about the world’s vulnerability to future public health crises.
The 2021 Global Health Security (GHS) Index measured the capacity of 195 countries to prepare for future epidemics and pandemics and found that, despite the devastating health impacts of COVID-19, all countries remain unprepared.
The GHS Index, released by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, with research by Economist Impact, gave an average country score of 38.9 out of a possible score of 100.
No country scored above 75.9, or in the top tier of rankings.
“COVID-19 offers a devastating illustration of how poor pandemic preparedness and response can impact health and security at every level—local, national and global,” said NTI CEO Ernest J. Moniz, in a news release.
“The stakes are high, and world leaders need to act. Biological risks are growing in frequency, and all countries need more investment in durable capabilities to address these risks,” he said.
The Index assessed countries using publicly available information. The project included a year-long data collection and validation process.
The United States was ranked first in this year’s Index as well as the 2019 Index.
Despite its ranking, the United States still has “critical weaknesses,” the report states, and its COVID-19 response has been generally viewed as “extremely poor.”
While the United States had the highest capacity to respond to the pandemic of any country, there was one significant factor that hindered the country’s response, the report found.
The United States had the lowest possible score on public confidence in the government.
As a result, in many areas of the country, people have been unwilling to comply with public health measures that would slow the spread of COVID, the report states.
The Index is designed to inform leaders of the elements necessary to keep their countries safe from the threat of epidemics and pandemics.
It provides an action plan for countries, international organizations, philanthropies, and the private sector.
“Leaders now have a choice,” said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in a statement.
“They can make dedicated, sustainable investments in the new capacities created during the COVID-19 response to prepare their countries for the long term, or they can fall back into the decades-long cycle of panic-and-neglect that will leave the world at grave risk for inevitable future public health threats,” she said.