Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak Suggests We Aren’t Ready for a Pandemic

A top biosecurity expert says the US and the world aren’t ready for a big, mass-casualty pandemic.

In this interview, Dylan Matthews from Vox interviews Dr. Beth Cameron, currently the vice president for global biological policy at the Nuclear Threat Initiative and formerly the senior director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council during the Obama administration.

There are some things in a health system that are particularly important for epidemic and pandemic preparedness. That includes things like disease detection — the ability to understand that you’re seeing something new — and the ability, once you’ve identified a novel outbreak like the Wuhan coronavirus, to detect and report it. When there’s zoonotic spread between humans and animals, it means making sure those systems of surveillance are talking to each other.

It also means emergency operations capabilities, which allows you to estimate caseload and send out rapid response teams to find cases, trace them back, isolate, and stop spread.

Disease detection and surveillance depends on the ability of those laboratories to confirm disease and communicate with one another. [It also depends on] the epidemiology workforce, the disease doctors who go out and actually do this work of finding cases and understanding where there’s been contact. There are also other things that are really important during an epidemic or pandemic but also just critical things day to day: the number of doctors and nurses; hospital capability; health care infrastructure; the ability of your citizens to access and pay for health care.

Dr. Beth Cameron

Read the full interview at Vox

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