Most countries have faithfully followed the WHO playbook to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. But has the immense social and economic damage wrought by this response been greater than the true medical impact of the pandemic? And what lessons must we learn to inform our future pandemic response strategy? In this debate, ‘For' will argue that the approach deployed on the direction of the WHO has been disproportionate, when a more targeted, evidence-based response would have paid similar dividends. ‘Against’ will say that while hindsight always delivers apparent wisdom, the WHO-led response has been proportionate given its mandate, and will prove effective, given the circumstances.