The question now is whether these truly shocking numbers – an official count of the millions who lost their lives – will make a difference?
If it is going to, people at all levels must use this as a call to action to unite and exert pressure on governments to ensure the inequalities revealed by the pandemic are not allowed to be exacerbated exponentially.
Global leaders must stop talking about equity and solidarity and use the levers they have – political, economic, and social – to achieve it.
This means investing in what will deliver this equity: in strong and resilient communities and systems – from universal health coverage and social protection – to those that effectively address climate change and support broader pandemic preparedness and response. At their very core, they must be guided by equity – as a principal and an outcome, not just as an empty word.
People must be placed before profit and health and wellbeing across the life course must be prioritized. And we must ensure that the most basic human rights of each one of us are upheld everywhere, at all ages, whether we are in a global pandemic or not.