Preparing for the next pandemic

As most restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have been lifted globally, one can sense a certain enthusiasm linked to the fact that people have regained their freedom. Make no mistake, the COVID-19 pandemic was a tragedy of epic proportions and has disrupted the world in a way thought impossible by many.

Whilst the pandemic will be mostly associated with a negative phase in humanity’s existence, there are several learning lessons and experiences which should not go to waste. For one, there was the emergence and breakthrough of effective vaccines to tackle the disease. The experience and key learnings are highly valuable, especially when considering that the knowledge can be used for other pandemics. In this article, we shall be discussing what should be kept in mind in view of the possibilities of the next health crisis.

Investment in public health

One of the problems that was raised during the onset of the pandemic is that public health globally could not cope with the cases of infected individuals requiring medical care. The lack of adequate preparation for such a pandemic caught many countries off guard with clear gaps in their hospitals. Many people who needed a ventilator could not gain access to one and several had to be treated out of a hospital bed. Investment in more capacity and medical equipment should be spearheaded to ensure better preparation for a similar pandemic. One of the problems of the past years was also the lack of sufficient human resources, as hospital staff could not cope with the demand. More hospital staff is needed going forward.

Investment in manufacturing

As we have seen over the past months, the challenges of a pandemic are not solely tied to creating an effective vaccine. Apart from having effective vaccines in the arsenal, there are other challenges related to logistics and distribution. Producing and distributing vaccines for the global population within limited timeframes proved to be a significant challenge, allowing the onslaught of the pandemic for an additional number of months.

Combat misinformation

Throughout the course of the pandemic, one of the problems was misinformation. Content which was inaccurate was published and consumed by a number of readers. The same applies for the misinformation which surrounded vaccines. Social media platforms have an obligation to address and minimise the spread of inaccurate information.

Whilst exiting a current pandemic, the least we want to hear about is the emergence of a new one. Although most of us would opt to avoid the topic completely, the possibility of another pandemic exists and we need to be ready for it.

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