Davos organiser ridiculed over claims it predicted worldwide pandemic

Davos organiser ridiculed over claims it had warned about the dangers of a worldwide pandemic for over a decade

The organiser of the annual Davos summit faced ridicule after claiming it has spent more than a decade sounding the alarm over the threat of infectious diseases only to be ignored.

As it released its latest Global Risks Report yesterday, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said it has been ‘warning the world about the dangers of pandemics’ for 15 years. 

And it added that last year ‘the world saw the catastrophic effects of ignoring’ such risks.

Covid claims: The organiser of the annual Davos summit said it has been ‘warning the world about the dangers of pandemics’ for 15 years

But the WEF, which every year hosts a meeting of the global elite in the Swiss ski town of Davos, was accused of existing ‘in its own air-conditioned bubble’.

This time last year, when Covid-19 was sweeping across Asia and the WEF released its 2020 report, infectious disease was not on its list of the ten likeliest risks. And it came tenth on the list of risks likely to have the most impact.

At last January’s summit, the virus was merely a murmur in the background, as climate change took centre stage.

Former Commons Treasury committee chairman Lord Mann said: ‘Just like they didn’t see the 2008 crash, Brexit or the election of Trump, the WEF failed to foresee this pandemic. Davos exists in its own air-conditioned bubble.’

Andrew Sentance, an economist and former Bank of England policy maker, added: ‘I don’t think anything that was ever said at Davos has made any impact.

‘Can anybody identify any major initiatives launched by the WEF? I can’t.’

Founded by German economist Klaus Schwab 50 years ago, the WEF was designed to ‘improve the state of theworld’ and ‘shape agendas’ through  engagement between business leaders, politicians and even celebrities. 

But Davos has become renowned for flashy parties and champagne-fuelled events. This year it is online.

WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi said: ‘In 2020 we talked about how health systems were facing threats from multiple fronts and were essentially too weak to deal with a major load. We’ve seen quite a bit of that come true.’