This Wall Street Journal article was written by Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2009 to 2017. While COVID-19 preoccupies us at the moment, it is crucial to begin thinking about the next inevitable pandemics. Dr. Frieden explains that in the years after COVID-19, it is likely that another infectious disease, possibly a similar pneumonia-like illness, suddenly emerges. Will we be ready?
In this part of my conversation with Prof. Dr. Manfred Wildner and Dr. Herbert Zöllner in Munich, we are discussing biothreat and pandemic preparedness in Germany.
Dr. Zöllner worked for the World Health Organization from 1971-2002, in a variety of roles. He was Regional Officer for Health Economics at WHO’s Regional Office for Europe in Copenhagen and later member of the executive management team in Strategic Planning and Coordination.
As part of my work for NYU’s School of Global Public Health, I have been compiling and comparing key metrics for the most severe global pandemics that occurred in the past 100 years.
I am comparing COVID-19 metrics to seasonal influenza, 1918 Spanish flu, 1957 Asian flu, 1968 Hong Kong flu, and 2009-10 H1N1. There are many similarities and differences that can be observed. Aside from the astonishing speed of vaccine development to combat COVID-19, there are three interesting findings.
I originally created this blog as a way to spread awareness of the importance of public health preparedness, as it was an undervalued and underfunded topic. However, times have changed and public health and emergency management are at the forefront of news and public policy today as a result of COVID-19.
The history of public health in Germany is inseparably intertwined with German historic events and public figures. I was able to learn about it from two experts in this field: Prof. Dr. Manfred Wildner and his colleague Dr. Herbert Zöllner, who are both based in Munich, Germany.
Since the Hong Kong health system is often an important gatekeeper with regard to pandemics, I was interested to find out how the government structures preparedness efforts for both unintentional and intentional biological incidents.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, I spoke to a senior officer who is working for the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). We discussed the Hong Kong Government’s approach to bioterror and public health preparedness.
As the coronavirus spreads around the world, we can only now see the destructive path it has taken and the devastating effects the virus has on economies and lives alike. The damage of the coronavirus has been “quick and enormous – much greater than 9/11 – and worldwide”, with the virus destroying “economies, governments, and technical infrastructures of the world’s most advanced economies”.
There is currently a debate about the trajectory of the new coronavirus disease, now named COVID-19. Different models are predicting different outcomes and numbers provided by Chinese authorities seem to indicate a steep increase in cases. Continue Reading
The continuous spread of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) led the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency today. WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the main reason for the declaration “is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries”. Ghebreyesus made sure to praise the measures and the ways in which Chinese authorities are controlling this outbreak. Continue Reading
An important issue in the public health area today is dual use research and technology, a topic that often remains unspoken about and unknown to the public. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “dual use research of concern (DURC) is life sciences research that is intended for benefit, but which might easily be misapplied to do harm”. Continue Reading