Most countries were unprepared and too slow in their response to the coronavirus pandemic, a new Lancet Covid-19 Commission report said on Wednesday.

“As the outbreak became known globally in early January 2020, most governments around the world were too slow to acknowledge its importance and act with urgency in response,” the commission said.

It also said that governments paid too little attention to the most vulnerable groups in their societies, and were hampered by a lack of international cooperation and an epidemic of misinformation.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in China’s Wuhan city in December 2019, Covid-19 has infected 61.03 crore people and caused 65.20 lakh deaths around the world, according to the data provided by the Johns Hopkins University.

In Wednesday’s report, the commission criticised the World Health Organisation’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and called for its strengthening.

The commission said that the public health body acted “too cautiously” on several important aspect such as warning the world about the human transmissibility of the virus and in declaring a public health emergency.

It also said that the World Health Organisation was “too slow” in endorsing the public use of face masks and in recognising the airborne transmission of the virus.

“Reforms of WHO should include a substantial increase of its core budget,” the commission recommended. “The world community should not establish new centres of global health policy and finance that would compete with, or even undermine, the central role of WHO.”

In response, the World Health Organisation said that while it welcomes the recommendations by the commission, its report has omitted key matters and misrepresented the health body.

“WHO played, and continues to play, a vital role in getting Covid-19 tools to countries in need,” the global health body said in a statement. “Throughout the pandemic, the Director-General has repeatedly called for leaders to take actions to protect people and share tools equitably.”