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Brown doctor explains what we need to do now to prevent the next pandemic


Health

“Even if the next pandemic is years away, it’s likely that we only have a few months to lay the groundwork to prepare for it.”

Policymakers must heed front-line warnings to prevent the next pandemic, according to emergency physician Dr Craig Spencer. John Moore/Getty Images, file

After treating Ebola patients in Guinea and surviving the disease himself, Dr. Craig Spencer felt comforted knowing he would never again witness the despair he had seen in the midst of virus outbreak.

“The world would surely never be so ill-prepared again,” he said in a guest essay on Monday. The New York Times.

Enter: The COVID-19 pandemic.

“Covid was humiliating; it revealed how vulnerable we all are to pandemic threats,” wrote Spencer, an emergency physician and associate professor of health services, policy, and practice at Brown University School of Public Health.

“We remain a mere genetic swap of the flu genome away from a more catastrophic pandemic than anything we have experienced in recent memory,” he warned.

Policymakers must heed warnings from the front line, Spencer wrote.

“Even if the next pandemic is years away, it’s likely that we only have a few months to lay the groundwork to prepare for it,” he wrote. “So what should we do?”

Spencer identified three areas requiring immediate action and investment: expanding disease surveillance – not only among rich countries, but also in low-income countries and areas of humanitarian crisis – strengthening the global health workforce and ensuring the equity in access to treatment and vaccines.

“We must treat pandemic preparedness as an ongoing priority, just as we do our national defense, which receives hundreds of billions of dollars in annual funding, even in peacetime,” Spencer insisted. “If we allow the destruction of the Covid pandemic to recur in the future, we will only have ourselves – not a pandemic pathogen – to blame.”

Read Spencer’s full essay on The New York Times’ website.



Boston

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