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Pandemic Preparedness: Lessons From Global Crises and Survival Tactics

By American Patriots Oct6,2023

Pandemic Preparedness Lessons from Global Crises and Survival Tactics

Pandemic Preparedness: Lessons From Global Crises and Survival Tactics

COVID-19’s pandemic serves as an illustration that even an outbreak with rapid spread can kill millions and destabilize economies, not to mention national security.

Countries vary in their levels of preparedness based on both spark risk (how likely a disease outbreak will be) and spread risk (the maximum extent an outbreak could reach).

Nations that excel are those with stringent measures and low mortality rates.

1. Preparing for a Pandemic

Over two decades, NIAID researchers have made considerable strides toward creating tools to prevent and respond to outbreaks that could become pandemics. These include surveillance for early pathogen detection; data collection and modeling tools for measuring disease spread speed; public health communications to educate people about protecting themselves against potential outbreaks; vaccine development/therapy research.

The COVID-19 Pandemic illustrated the need for comprehensive preparations. It exposed flaws in global systems that compromise our national and global ability to respond quickly in case of pandemic, including difficulties communicating a clear science-based message to the public and creating a comprehensive system for testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine. Furthermore, this event highlighted a need for improved coordination among national, local and business governments as well as between businesses.

Building pandemic resilience requires a range of skills, such as epidemiology, biosecurity, public health and economics. From an economic standpoint this includes an appreciation of tradeoffs between different ways of responding to crises and how to evaluate individual, household and global costs and benefits; using evidence in decision making; as well as acknowledging that avoiding risk altogether by practicing good hygiene such as covering coughs and sneezes when coughing and sneezing occurs (washing hands frequently while staying home when sick), following medical guidance as well as using vaccines or medicines.

Business managers must know how to anticipate and prepare for the potential impacts of a pandemic on their operations, including procuring supplies from overseas, moving production away from affected areas and having backup sites and plans in place. Business leaders can count on government at all levels from local to federal to provide clear and consistent information about how borders will be protected against infected people and animals while simultaneously opening them under certain conditions in order to allow flow of personnel and goods for business-critical personnel and goods.

Preparing for a pandemic takes both time and money to successfully prepare. Mobilizing resources necessary for this effort has proved particularly difficult in low-income countries that face public health challenges as well as other pressing priorities, making pandemic preparedness expenses an unaffordable luxury; high-income countries that can afford it must help mobilize funds for those nations in need.

2. Surviving a Pandemic

An international pandemic can be catastrophic. Demand for essentials, like healthcare products related to infection control and non-perishable food items, can increase dramatically and businesses that cannot keep pace with this demand may struggle. Companies should create a business continuity plan outlining how they will continue operations during a pandemic – this should address their supply chain, potential employee absenteeism, plans for managing shortages of raw materials/supplies as well as communication strategies with customers/suppliers/employees during such an outbreak.

Successful pandemic responses depend on having an efficient system in place for testing and tracing individuals who may have come into contact with infected people, with one key element being rapid release of coronavirus genetic sequence data allowing public health officials to quickly identify infected people as well as locate those they’ve come into contact with. Unfortunately, the United States struggled to meet this objective at the outset of this pandemic and had only conducted approximately 100 tests by early March despite best efforts to do so.

Other countries have shown more progress, with South Korea in particular taking great strides forward with regards to testing and tracing people as soon as the first reported cases of community transmission were reported in late February. Furthermore, governments should employ social-distancing policies; meaning people should stay home unless essential services require their attendance; coughs should be covered up with tissues when possible and hands washed often with soap.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need for a fundamental revision of global strategies designed to deal with emerging and novel pathogens. The Task Force recommends that governments redesign the metrics they use to assess and monitor national pandemic preparedness capacity; pair those indices with response triggers, mitigation guidelines and rehearsal exercises; and make protection of frontline healthcare workers and at-risk populations a top priority in any national plan. Governments must also invest more heavily in domestic pandemic preparedness efforts. The United States spends $750 billion each year to deter aggression with military expenditure, yet only 1 percent of its overall budget goes toward global health security efforts – something which needs to change immediately.

3. Managing a Pandemic

An infectious pathogen has the power to wipe out millions of lives, destabilize global economies, and undermine national security. Furthermore, such an outbreak could further cause havoc with global supply chains, disrupting them with catastrophic results for businesses and investors alike.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic showed us that we are unequipped to effectively address rapid-spreading threats like COVID. Public health institutions, government responses and global supply chain networks remain underprepared for future outbreaks; furthermore, multilateral systems lack mechanisms that would coordinate diplomatic, economic, health science security logistics resources needed to deploy an effective response.

Failure is shared by both the United States and international communities; neither can afford to treat disease outbreaks with indifference anymore. We must build resilient global health systems capable of quickly responding when new pathogens emerge, whether bacterial, viral or fungal. Research must prioritized so vaccines and antivirals can reach people as quickly as possible – as must the global infrastructure that supports such investments; such as research facilities/laboratories capacity/healthcare systems providing early treatment of outbreaks.

The Task Force’s recommendations include increasing the risk of new and reemerging infectious diseases to an equivalent level as that associated with transnational terrorism, while clarifying responsibilities for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), congressional oversight and input into executive branch efforts, state, local, and tribal capabilities as well as capabilities that need to be strengthened through restructuring of federal government and more realistic budget allocation to ensure success. This change requires significant restructuring within U.S. federal government as well as more realistic funding.

As part of their resilience programs, companies should examine and mitigate risks posed by the increasing interconnections among business operations, third-party service providers and supply chains. Companies should evaluate which third parties are essential in their value chains and create plans such as insource strategies or substituteability in case these vendors become affected by pandemic events or regional outages or geopolitical events.

4. Recovering from a Pandemic

Emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases is an ongoing threat to global health. The COVID-19 pandemic highlights this reality, underscoring its inherent danger and the necessity of investing in research for vaccines and other countermeasures to limit disease spread. NIAID has long been at the forefront of pandemic preparedness; our scientists have spearheaded major responses against 2009 H1N1, MERS-CoV, Ebola virus, Zika virus and now COVID-19 outbreaks.

COVID-19 revealed, however, that both the United States and much of the world remain woefully unprepared to respond quickly and effectively when an epidemic-scale outbreak occurs. It underlines the need for improved preparedness measures including increased surveillance capabilities, addressing global inequalities, improving access to medicine and other essential supplies and strengthening global inequities.

This report urges the United States and other nations to elevate pandemic preparedness as a national economic and security priority, organize and invest in accordance, revitalize the CDC, clarify federal and state authorities and roles for responding to pandemics, make additional investments to strengthen global capacities, as well as overhaul their international system for responding to global health crises with strengthened WHO, expanded funding of global preparedness capacities, enhanced monitoring and accountability measures.

Additionally, the Task Force recommends that the federal government make investments in vulnerable communities that reflect social and economic justice principles for both domestic and global health security. Furthermore, an integrated One Health approach that recognizes interactions among human, animal, and plant health should also be explored as prevention/response solutions is recommended.

Businesses should evaluate their plans to determine if they could operate during a pandemic, including identifying key employees and outlining responsibilities for each. They should optimize IT infrastructures to support telecommuting, establish clear channels for communicating with workers, customers and suppliers as well as having emergency backup power available, secure storage for essential items in an accessible place, password protected digital copies of important documents as well as create plans to communicate with their workforce during such an emergency as well as alternative distribution channels should shortages or delivery disruptions arise.

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