On December 31, 2019 China reported a cluster of pneumonia-like cases to the WHO Country Office. Though December 1, 2019 marks the earliest known date of COVID-19 symptom emergence, research by scientists at Harvard argues that the virus could have been circulating as early as August (Nsoesie et al., 2020). By early January, the confirmed cases of the disease appeared in countries around the world.
Effective pandemic preparedness and response depend on the quality as well as the speed of obtaining relevant information, especially from remote and hard to reach areas of the world, where most known and unknown disease outbreaks occur and originate. Equally important is the local/national ability to collate, analyze, and interpret the information in a form valuable for taking appropriate preventive action and response.
As part of the Tier One Program, a “Science & Policy” interdisciplinary class on pandemics took place at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. The class was comprised of graduate students from five different departments across campus. The students produced this White Paper as part of their research on combating antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is the process by which microorganisms, such as viruses and bacteria, develop capabilities that render antimicrobial medicines ineffective in treating infections.
Community Resilience, Centralized Leadership & Multi-Sectoral Collaboration in Pandemic Preparedness
Since the end of the 1918 pandemic the world has faced three more influenza pandemics, the most recent being the 2009 H1N1 pandemic which infected 2 billion people in 6 months. Additionally, we face an ever increasing frequency of emerging infectious diseases with pandemic potential. These diseases could kill millions, cost billions, and have other significant economic, social, national security, and political consequences. If the United States and international system do not make progress towards closing the gaps addressed in this and previous Scowcroft white papers, countries will remain vulnerable to a devastating outbreak.
On Oct. 14, 2018, the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs conducted a pandemic simulation designed to give students from across Texas A&M University a high-impact, interdisciplinary learning experience. All authors of the paper are student participants of an exercise where they responded to a simulated H7N9 outbreak, and this is a report of their findings.
In this report, the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University outlines eight priority areas and their accompanying recommended action items to address vulnerabilities in the current pandemic preparedness and response system.
The threat posed by pandemics grows alongside increased globalization and technological innovation. Distant cultures can now be connected in a day’s time, and international trade links global health and economic prosperity. In this report, the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University details nine priority areas and accompanying action items that will help to address current pandemic response problems.