Mitigating the harms these global events pose to health, security, and prosperity isn’t a simple task: pandemic risks are increasing. In the five months since the center’s establishment, there have been outbreaks of Mpox (formerly called monkeypox), Ebola, Marburg virus, polio, a significant spike in RSV, and continued concerns that the ongoing H5N1 outbreak could jump from animals to humans.
Governments and communities need to develop their capacity to monitor and respond to these different biological emergencies. “Pandemics have a long half-life. While we’re contending with a deadly biological emergency like COVID-19, other infectious disease threats may simultaneously arise and require a response,” says Professor of Epidemiology Jennifer Nuzzo, the inaugural director of the Pandemic Center. “Our national response systems are ill-prepared for handling a single pandemic threat, let alone multiple, concurrent emergencies.”
The Pandemic Center was created to achieve four core goals: generate and synthesize the data needed to support decisionmaking; ensure that that evidence is translated into effective policies and practices; train the next generation of pandemic leaders; and educate and engage the broader public to save lives.
Translating Evidence Into Practice
Policymakers are still learning how best to prepare for and respond to pandemic threats. Experts at the Pandemic Center aim to address the questions at the top of scientists’ and policymakers’ lists, such as ‘How can we balance quarantine and other public health strategies with our democratic freedoms?’