Eventually, this will take place once again. There will be another new infection and another pandemic. And while every pandemic is various, there are some universal, concrete things we can do to attempt to weather that storm better than weve weathered this one.
The big image: Here are 9 things the U.S. need to do in the next pandemic– some huge, some little, some lessons from what went wrong this time, some lessons from whats gone.
1. Move quickly
This is one of the most significant, sharpest dividing lines in between the nations that managed the coronavirus well and the ones that handled it badly. If you do not kick into equipment up until its a crisis, youre just going to make sure a much bigger and longer-lasting crisis.
2. Diversify the preparation
The global public health neighborhood had been preparing for a pandemic, however might have been too directly focused on an influenza pandemic, says Claire Standley, a specialist on worldwide public health systems at Georgetown University.
There were plenty of good reasons to believe influenza would be the most likely source of a pandemic, and its probably still the most likely to trigger the next one, but the truth that we got a coronavirus instead must be a wake-up call versus disease-specific planning.
That suggests stockpiling a broader variety of antiviral drugs, in addition to generalized supplies like protective gear and testing parts.
3. Have a backup prepare for diagnostics
The World Health Organizations preliminary coronavirus test had a high mistake rate, so the U.S. decided to develop its own, however then that test didnt work. Errors occur, and its not practical to just plan not to have any problems next time.
The lesson is to be active– even a flawed test is much better than no testing.
The Trump administration eventually eliminated a great deal of red tape to get academic and industrial labs into the mix, and a few of those policy modifications need to probably occur even much faster next time.
4. Develop contact tracing
The fundamental playbook is testing, contact tracing and seclusion, because order. If testing is better in a future pandemic, well want to be able to do the second action, too.
Other countries can do it. Massachusetts has a contact tracing infrastructure that, while not perfect, is probably the best in the U.S. and a design to build on. Baltimore found a clever solution by reassigning school nurses to do contact tracing.
Silicon Valleys on-the-fly coronavirus tracing tools have had fairly restricted pickup, however theres an obvious function for tech in a more structured, preemptive structure.
5. Accept threat on vaccines
Governments, drug companies and philanthropies are accepting an extraordinary financial danger in the race for a coronavirus vaccine, and it appears highly likely to settle.
Trials are still continuous, so theres no promise that any one vaccine will work.
However the way this process is advancing– raking ahead on multiple fronts, getting a get on manufacturing and throwing away the products that dont work– is a brand-new model. And it promises to deliver a vaccine faster than anybody believed possible.
6. Walk the general public through the things youre asking of them
Particularly with a brand-new virus, our scientific understanding will undoubtedly alter, and public-health guidance will have to change along with it. Being transparent about what the public is being asked to do, and why, will go a long way.
Masks are a fantastic example. Early on, authorities detered the public from buying masks due to the fact that there werent adequate masks, and healthcare employees needed them. But that reasoning wasnt made specific.
As scientists later discovered that masks were a lot more effective than they thought, and as the supply of masks escalated, an extremely affordable development toward pro-mask guidance felt rather like confusion and whiplash, weakening the message.
7. International cooperation is key
In the earliest days of COVID-19, China rapidly and freely shared the virus genetic series, and the WHO helped distribute that information. Professionals call it one of the most consequential successes of the pandemic, necessary to getting begun on potential tests, vaccines and treatments.
Ever since, however, the WHO has faced plenty of well-founded criticism, the U.S. has actually pulled back from that body, and a few of Chinas information has actually become much less reliable.
Some organizations might require to be reformed, Standley stated, and others– possibly the United Nations– might need to handle a bigger function in some parts of future response efforts.
However in a worldwide pandemic, information-sharing and cooperation is vital to understanding the threat, determining whos most at threat, and designating the resources everyone needs to make it through it.
8. Develop a more fair healthcare system
The coronavirus has actually reflected and magnified the inequality within the U.S. health care system. As long as those inequities persist, future pandemics will exploit them, too.
We understood well before this pandemic that Black Americans had worse health results, on average, than white Americans. We understood that inadequate housing, poverty and food insecurity were all connected to health, and that those factors likewise break along racial lines.
We cant know now what will cause the next pandemic, but we understand that the status quo of the U.S. healthcare system will put bad individuals and people of color at a downside from the very beginning.
9. The economic response and the health action go together
In a pandemic like this one, where isolation belongs to the solution, financial stability and public health reinforce each other.
Some European economies have rebounded more quickly than the U.S., mostly due to the fact that they have actually done a far much better task consisting of the virus.
They were much better able to control the infection in part because they had more successful lockdowns, and they had more successful lockdowns in part because they built stimulus plans that allowed individuals to lock down without sacrificing their incomes.
The bottom line: The continuous here is preparation and in advance investments– in big-picture systems, long-term planning and swift, early action once a crisis hits.
“All of that is cash well invested if you can avert the sort of catastrophe weve seen with COVID-19,” Standley said.
There will be another new virus and another pandemic. And while every pandemic is various, there are some universal, concrete things we can do to try to weather that storm better than weve weathered this one.
Massachusetts has a contact tracing infrastructure that, while not ideal, is most likely the best in the U.S. and a model to construct on. Baltimore found a clever solution by reassigning school nurses to do call tracing.
Early on, authorities discouraged the public from buying masks since there werent enough masks, and health care employees needed them.