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Preparing the world for the next pandemic

Although COVID-19 took countless lives and the world’s response was not perfect, it has taught us several lessons potentially useful to respond to future pandemics. Unfortunately, predictions are grimmer for many similar or even worse pandemics necessitating countries to ensure that they are better prepared to deal with pandemics than they were for COVID-19.

Throughout the pandemic, we witnessed high points such as the speed of vaccines and diagnostics development as well as low points such as the unequal distribution of those resources globally and confused messaging revealing weaknesses in how public-health authorities communicate.

Out of the many lessons learned, some important ones include the need for global zoonoses monitoring, obtaining and sharing the genetic sequences of viruses globally as they emerge, strengthening the manufacturing of diagnostics and vaccines, developing vaccines for rapid production in advance, and stopping the spread right away at its origin. Newer advancements like machine learning and climate modeling could be very useful for achieving such goals, especially in predicting infectious-disease outbreaks.

In summary, preparing for future pandemics involves strengthening the entire chain of the outbreak response, from identifying a pathogen with proper diagnostics to timely mass vaccination.

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