Watch: Peter Sands' 'nightmare' coronavirus scenario

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Peter Sands, the executive director of The Global Fund to Fights AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said his “nightmare” scenario was if the coronavirus was largely eradicated from advanced economies but remained a persistent threat and unfinished fight in low- and middle-income economies.

“It isn’t a theoretical outcome. Because If you actually think about what has happened with HIV, TB and malaria is — these were pandemics,” Sands told Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar in the latest Devex Coffeehouse Conversation. “We managed to effectively get rid of them ... as public health threats at least, in the richest parts of the world, but we have not yet won that fight among the poorer and more vulnerable communities elsewhere.”

Sands said he felt there was a danger that once there is not as much interest in the COVID response among major economies, the fight against the disease will become a humanitarian concern. “And maybe it gets given to the Global Fund as yet another unfinished fight against a pandemic,” he added.

“The reason I’m talking about this now is because I don’t think that’s what should happen. That’s not the way we should be tackling this thing.”

The full conversation, which also included Last Mile Health CEO Raj Panjabi, Roots Africa founder Beatrice Savadye, and Devex Senior Reporter Jenny Lei Ravelo, also addresses the critical role of community health workers and the importance of ensuring they have personal protective equipment as they face the COVID-19 pandemic.

More interviews with humanitarian leaders on COVID-19. Watch:
How Jan Egeland sees the crisis developing
Mark Dybul calls for global task force
Amref Health Africa CEO on the impact on NGO finances
Former OFDA chief gives Trump administration a ‘D’ on response
InterAction's CEO on the pandemic's financial impact on NGOs
How Rwanda got ahead of the pandemic curve

Visit our dedicated COVID-19 page for news, job opportunities, and funding insights.

About the author

  • Raj Kumar

    Raj Kumar is the Founding President and Editor-in-Chief at Devex, the media platform for the global development community. He is a media leader and former humanitarian council chair for the World Economic Forum and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His work has led him to more than 50 countries, where he has had the honor to meet many of the aid workers and development professionals who make up the Devex community. He is the author of the book "The Business of Changing the World," a go-to primer on the ideas, people, and technology disrupting the aid industry.