The shady role of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board
Article by Almedina Gunić, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 26 March 2020, www.thecommunists.net
A meeting between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank Group was held in Geneva in September 2018, resulting in the foundation of a new (imperialist) body called the “Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB)” (1). Before we deal with the concrete character and history of the GPMB and its board members, we have to take a look on a very interesting document published by the GPMB which is its first annual report on global preparedness for health emergencies.
The headline of the paper is “A WORLD AT RISK” (2) and it covers the scenario of a pandemic, calling for a “whole-of-government” and a “whole-of-society” approach to such a situation. One of the key sentences of the paper is: “The world is not prepared for a fast-moving, virulent respiratory pathogen pandemic.” (3) The paper itself was published in September 2019, three months before the outbreak of a “fast-moving, virulent respiratory pathogen pandemic”, now called COVID-19. This is a very accurate fortunetelling especially if one looks at the timeline of publication.
The Purpose of Pandemic Preparation
The paper argues: “The world is at risk. But, collectively, we already have the tools to save ourselves and our economies. What we need is leadership and the willingness to act forcefully and effectively.” (4) Each and every revolutionary should be alarmed by those words. We have witnessed the beginning of the capitalist crisis with the big recession in 2008/2009, there have been the revolutionary developments in the Arab countries since 2011 and, most importantly, the global wave of class struggles and popular uprisings – in Chile, Ecuador, Iraq, Lebanon, Hong Kong, France, etc. – since summer 2019. It was only a matter of time when a global counterrevolutionary offensive will begin. A pandemic as a threat which needs coordinated reaction by the ruling classes worldwide is an excellent cover for a suppression and demobilization of all revolutionary movements. It is indeed the project of the bourgeoisie to save themselves and their economy.
The following passage of the paper shows clearly that the ruling class is fully aware of the broad mass resentment and the lack of trust in their institutions. “Trust in institutions is eroding. Governments, scientists, the media, public health, health systems and health workers in many countries are facing a breakdown in public trust that is threatening their ability to function effectively. The situation is exacerbated by misinformation that can hinder disease control communicated quickly and widely via social media.” (5) It is not by accident that governments and media are named at the beginning of this quote. It is revealing that such a pessimistic assessment is not limited to this or that specific country but is seen as a general global trend, i.e. characteristic for the general world situation.
The paper furthermore says: “Efforts on national and local preparedness planning too often lack an effective “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach. Other parties that must be engaged include national agencies beyond the health ministry, local governments, traditional and religious leaders, civil society, the research and security communities, the private sector, the media and operational experts.” (6) We can currently see how effective most governments, mainly in the imperialist countries, have indeed managed within a short time to integrate traditional and religious leaders and the civil society, including the leadership of the workers movement, in their anti-democratic offensive covered by the fight against COVID-19.
“Emergency laws are not tough enough”
In this article we will not repeat the RCIT’s analyzes of the current developments of the COVID-19 crisis. We have done this extensively in numerous articles starting in early February 2020 (7). In particular we refer readers to our recently published programmatic manifesto: “COVID-19: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive” (8).
In the report, the GPMB appeals a number of times that the bourgeois governments need to prepare themselves and the society for a crisis: “Preparedness. The ability (knowledge, capacities, and organizations systems) of governments, professional response organizations, communities and individuals to anticipate, detect and respond effectively to, and recover from, the impact of likely, imminent or current health emergencies, hazards, events or conditions. It means putting in place mechanisms which will allow national authorities, multilateral organizations, and relief organizations to be aware of risks and deploy staff and resources quickly once a crisis strikes.“ (9) What is really meant with the call for preparedness by an imperialist body like the GPMB should be clear for any revolutionary.
Luckily for those who still haven't learned to read between the lines, Ilona Kickbusch – member of the GPMB Board – makes it clear in a recent article on COVID-19: “Difficulties have also emerged because many EU countries have federal structures that place the responsibility for health at regional, state, and local level, leaving national health ministers with little power, as emergency laws are not tough enough (…) At the same time, the health crisis also provides room for manoeuvring to create long-term structures for joint responses in the future. (...) If Europe uses this moment of crisis well it could come out stronger.” (10)
Irrespective of that, maybe the GPMB report was just meant to be a paper like CONOP 8888, the more or less famous anti-zombie document and training program of the U.S. Pentagon (11) with a more realistic worst-case scenario for a global health crisis. Maybe it was just meant to be a warning that the health system is not prepared for a pandemic. Even in this case, the content of the paper proofs again the real, counterrevolutionary nature of the current mobilization of forces by the ruling classes. CONOP 8888 was meant to prepare agents to deal with protest movements up to revolutionary uprisings, using the zombie reference as a code. “A WORLD AT RISK” prepares the G7 respectively the G20 to implement a coordinated, global offensive in case of a pandemic. However, the GPMB board is maybe honestly surprised by the hypothetical scenario becoming reality in such a short time. Or maybe everything is not such a coincidence at all.
What is the GPMB exactly?
The creation of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) started in a time of crisis of the World Bank Group. This crisis is mainly a result of the decline of the United States as the imperialist hegemon: “The World Bank has weathered U.S. disinterest before, eventually being rescued by a global crisis or change in U.S. administration. How much damage is done now depends on how long the current partisanship lasts, whether the administration goes from disinterested to hostile, and how other donor countries—and World Bank management—respond. While the rise of China poses a long-term challenge, the disinterest of Trump in multilateral matters poses a more daunting and more immediate problem.“ (12) The global influence of the new Eastern imperialist power China is reflected in its various economic projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, it is also marked by its growing economic influence in semi-colonial countries weakening the monopoly of the World Bank Group in its function as loaner: “A sharp drop in World Bank lending now could put it in the perilous position of being a development agency with a negative net resource flow—receiving more in loan repayments from poor countries than it sends out in new loans.” (13)
Today, the World Bank Group happily steps in as a provider of massive new loans to a number of countries worldwide in order to cope with COVID-19. World Bank Group President David Malpass announced on the 23rd March 2020: “The World Bank Group, including IFC and MIGA, could deploy as much as $150 billion over the next 15 months. I need to raise a related concern. This crisis will likely hit hardest against the poorest and most vulnerable countries, those roughly 75 poorest countries drawing on IDA. Many were already in a difficult debt situation, leaving no space for an appropriate health and economic response. We are ready to frontload IDA19 with up to $35 billion and identify additional resources.” (14) This “noble” gesture of the World Bank Group immediately solves its own existential crisis.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on the other hand stated in the GPMB annual report: “Member states need to agree to an increase in WHO contributions for the financing of preparedness and response activities and must sustainably fund the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies, including the establishment of a replenishment scheme using funding from the revised World Bank Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.” (15) In times of a pandemic like COVID-19 the almightiness of the WHO in terms of health measures comes in handy to guarantee a massive increase of WHO contributions by its member states not only for now but also for the future.
Furthermore, it comes not by surprise that the board of GPMB includes persons like Jeremy Farrar, the CEO of the NPO Wellcome Trust. (16) The President of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Cris Elias is also a GPMB Board member (17). Jeremy Farrar is also on board of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) which is funded by Wellcome Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum and the governments of Norway and India (18). Unsurprisingly CEPI is currently working on four different types of vaccines against the new coronavirus (19). In 2018 a partnership was established between CEPI and the pharmaceutical multinational company Inovia Pharmaceutical (20), which has started to work on a vaccine against the corona-virus family long before COVID-19. At the beginning of this year, it was already in phase 2 of clinical testing (21).
Another big multinational corporation that started early with vaccination testing against the corona-virus family is GlaxoSmithKline which recently started cooperating with China's Clover Biopharmaceuticals (22). GlaxoSmithKline is the successor of the Glaxo Wellcome Corp. which is the founder of already mentioned Wellcome Trust (23). Other noteworthy members of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) are Dr. George F. Gao, the Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Prof. Veronika Skvortsova, former Minister of Health of the Russian Federation (24). Dr. George F. Gao's education included the function as a Wellcome Trust/MRC Postdoctoral Research Assistant from 1995-1998 and the work as part of the Welcome Trust (UK) International Research Fellowship from 1999 to 2001 (25).
To sum it up: Pharmaceutical industry is most likely the biggest winner of the COVID-19 crisis. It has so much influence within the GPMB board, which is a body of both WHO and World Bank. Half a year ago, the GPMB has published an exact prediction of a pandemic that is happening right now. The World Bank Group is rescued in its function as a greedy loaner to semi-colonial countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) gains massive influence (and money) becoming one of the most important imperialist institutions in this crisis and most likely for the future. The various bourgeois states and regimes save themselves from the wave of revolutionary uprisings with the active help of civil society and are able to implement surveillance techniques and anti-democratic measures without any resistance. The massive recession appears as a natural consequence of the pandemic, smothering the fact that it is the result of the capitalist crisis itself.
Comrades, brothers and sisters, this is like the case of 9/11 and the war against Afghanistan. The U.S. led invasion was planned before September 11 happened, but it was presented as a direct reaction to the attack against the World Trade Centre. The counterrevolutionary offensive that is now happening worldwide is implemented under the cover of fighting COVID-19, but it was prepared long before the virus spread. Don't fall for the trick!
(1) "Global Preparedness Monitoring Board convenes for the first time in Geneva", The World Bank Press Release, 10 September 2018, https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2018/09/10/global-preparedness-monitoring-board-convenes-for-the-first-time-in-geneva
(2) “A WORLD AT RISK, Annual report on global preparednessfor health emergencies”, Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), September 2019, https://apps.who.int/gpmb/assets/annual_report/GPMB_annualreport_2019.pdf
(3) Ibid, p.15
(4) Ibid, p.6
(5) “A WORLD AT RISK, Annual report on global preparednessfor health emergencies”, Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), p. 15, September 2019, https://apps.who.int/gpmb/assets/annual_report/GPMB_annualreport_2019.pdf
(6) Ibid, p. 24
(7) “Collection of Articles on the 2019 Corona Virus”, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-2019-corona-virus/
(8) “COVID-19: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive. We are at a turning point in the world situation as the ruling classes provoke a war-like atmosphere in order to legitimize the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes”, Manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 21 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-a-cover-for-a-major-global-counterrevolutionary-offensive/
(9) “A WORLD AT RISK”, p. 41
(10) The Big European Shut Down COVID-19 pandemic reflects the EU’s powerlessness to act coherently on health matters—but it also reveals a path forward, by Ilona Kickbusch and Susan Bergner , Think Global Health, 16 March 2020, https://www.thinkglobalhealth.org/article/big-european-shut-down
(11) “Pentagon document lays out battle plan against zombies”, by Jamie Crawford, CNN, 16 May 2014, https://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/16/politics/pentagon-zombie-apocalypse/index.html
(12) "The fate of the World Bank during a divided US government", by Christopher Kilby, BROOKINGS, 7 November 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2018/11/07/the-fate-of-the-world-bank-during-a-divided-us-government/
(13) Ibid. For the RCIT’s analysis of the decline of the U.S. and the rise of China and the resulting Great Power rivalry we refer to the book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019. The book can be read online or downloaded for free here: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/. On the Global Trade War between these two imperialist Great Powers see also the RCIT’s documents which have been collected at a special sub-page on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-global-trade-war/
(14) “Remarks by World Bank Group President David Malpass on G20 Finance Ministers Conference Call on COVID-19”, The World Bank Speeches and Transcripts, 23 March 2020, https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/speech/2020/03/23/remarks-by-world-bank-group-president-david-malpass-on-g20-finance-ministers-conference-call-on-covid-19
(15) “A WORLD AT RISK, Annual report on global preparednessfor health emergencies”, Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), p. 9, September 2019, https://apps.who.int/gpmb/assets/annual_report/GPMB_annualreport_2019.pdf
(16) “Coronavirus vaccine: when will it be ready?”, The Guardian, 25 March 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/25/coronavirus-vaccine-when-will-it-be-ready-trials-cure-immunisation
(17) “Board”, GPMB, https://apps.who.int/gpmb/board.html
(18) “Investors & Partners”, CEPI, https://cepi.net/about/whoweare/
(19) “Coronavirus vaccine: when will it be ready?”, The Guardian, 25 March 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/25/coronavirus-vaccine-when-will-it-be-ready-trials-cure-immunisation
(20) "Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)", Inovio Pharmaceuticals, https://www.inovio.com/about#leadership
(21) “Inovio Pharmaceuticals set to trial Covid-19 vaccine in April”, Pharamaceutical Technology, 4 March 2020, https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/news/inovio-covid-19-vaccine-timeline/
(22) “Clover and GSK announce research collaboration to evaluate coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine candidate with pandemic adjuvant system”, GSK, 24 February 2020, https://www.gsk.com/en-gb/media/press-releases/clover-and-gsk-announce-research-collaboration-to-evaluate-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccine-candidate-with-pandemic-adjuvant-system/
(23) “Merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham creates pharmaceutical giant”, by Alison Abbott, nature, 20 January 2000, https://www.nature.com/articles/35002148
(24) “Board”, GPMB, https://apps.who.int/gpmb/board.html
(25) “Education”, Curriculum Vitae, http://www.caspmi.cn/gaog/cv3.html