World leaders are meeting in the second global Covid virtual summit today. PM Narendra Modi will deliver his remarks in the opening session of the summit on the theme ‘Preventing Pandemic Fatigue and Prioritising Preparedness’, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. “India is playing a key role in the ongoing global efforts to combat the pandemic by supplying safe and affordable vaccines, medicines, development of low-cost indigenous technologies to test and treat, genomic surveillance, and capacity building for health care workers,” the ministry stated. “India is also proactively engaged in multilateral fora with the objective of strengthening and reforming the global health security architecture with WHO at its centre.” The first Global COVID virtual Summit was hosted by President Biden on 22 September, 2021, which too PM Modi had attended. Vaccinate the world A key focus of the summit will be on vaccinations which have saved millions of lives. 5.16 billion people across the world have received one dose of the Covid vaccine, that is 67.2 percent of the world population, however there is a stark gap in between the countries. In most of Africa less than 20% of the population has received one dose of the vaccine, in the remaining few, less than 35% have received one dose, as per data updated on May 11. Covid vaccines were developed remarkably quickly but it was also a matter of luck as the Coronavirus had already caused MERS and SARS diseases, so it was a familiar pathogen. To prevent the next pandemic, governments would have to invest heavily in building the infrastructure and investing in training scientists who can develop efficient and affordable vaccines more quickly. Focus on Africa While many developed countries have vaccinated 60% of their populations, emerging economies like India are catching up, but many nations lag woefully behind. As highlighted before, much of Africa remains vulnerable, posing risk to the entire world. It is only fair that an elderly person living in say Nigeria gets his or her first dose of vaccine before a 20-year-old receives a booster dose in say Europe. Some countries like Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and Yemen have not fully vaccinated even 5% of their population. Governments must ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines. Invest in healthcare workers Healthcare workers took the brunt of the pandemic, working endless hours, away from their families, and at the cost of their own lives. Their recruitment and pay should be prioritised. Besides trained medical personnel, community healthcare and healthcare workers should also be the focus. In India, the vibrant Asha workers network could be leveraged to propagate awareness about vaccination and also act as the primary health information provider in communities during the times of uncertainty about the novel disease. Such grassroots workers should be expanded across the world and given a stable stipend. Test and treat To defeat the next pandemic we need new and improved tools to fight diseases. A key part of treatment is diagnosis. The world needs high-throughput PCR tests that are faster at returning results, cheaper and more easily adapted to a new pathogen. The world would need to scale up its ability to test a new drug/vaccine and to manufacture billions of units at a lightning pace. The world already produces more than 5 billion doses of vaccines every year. But if another pandemic breaks out, we must be ready to produce as many as 8 billion or even 16 billion doses in a year, according to a Gates foundation estimate.