Tuesday, February 6, 2024
Year : 2, Issue : 6
While a full and final accounting of the global response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has yet to be written, many policymakers and public officials say one lesson is clear: The world can’t afford to wait to prepare for the next pandemic.
After 2½ years of masking, social distancing, lockdowns and variants, the ever-shifting coronavirus continues to confound scientists and defy expectations. Vaccines have saved millions of lives, even though many parts of the world still lag behind in vaccination rates, and misinformation and disinformation have proven to be among the most challenging barriers to further progress. Political divisions around pandemic responses also persist in many countries.
In the United States, even as people have grown gradually more comfortable since 2020 traveling, socializing and engaging in a range of daily activities, COVID optimism has fallen in recent months. As a weary public adjusts to the next “new normal,” what is the path forward to prepare for future public health threats? That question has taken on new resonance amidst the emergence of monkeypox in the U.S. and abroad.
Many ideas have been put forth, including establishing international pacts for pandemic preparedness, rebuilding America’s public health system, shoring up household readiness and action plans, and beyond. Last week, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the agency “did not reliably meet expectations” regarding its COVID response while also pledging changes in how it handles future challenges.
In this edition of The Forum, a U.S. News series that brings together multiple perspectives on the big questions of the moment, contributors share several policy moves and strategies to guard against future public health threats.