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I helped advise the US government on the next likely pandemic. What I learned is alarming | Devi Sridhar

The 100-day challenge, to be able to contain a virus while a vaccine is approved, manufactured and delivered, looks ever more remote

Four years on from the first Covid lockdown, life feels to be largely back to normal, although legacies of the pandemic remain. Collective amnesia seems to have set in. Politicians seem eager to move forward and not relive the decisions, delays and deaths that characterised public policy and press briefings. Yet we can’t forget such a brutal event, when Covid is estimated to have killed nearly 16 million people worldwide in 2020 and 2021, and caused life expectancy to decline in 84% of countries, including Britain. Pandemics aren’t a one-off event. There’s still a risk of another happening within our lifetimes.

Fortunately, what to do about the next pandemic is still very much at the top of the global health agenda. In 2021, I was asked to co-chair the US National Academy of Sciences’ committee on advancing pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccine preparedness and response. This group was sponsored by the US government to provide recommendations on how to improve preparedness for influenza, which is seen as one of the most likely candidates for the next pandemic. I was also involved with the Lancet Covid-19 taskforce, which brought together global experts to look at how to improve on the Covid response, and what challenges there were going forward. These groups represent some of the world’s best thinkers on global health and pandemic preparedness. Here’s what I learned.

Prof Devi Sridhar is chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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