I have not seen articles or information on how governments - behind the scenes or in public - reflect and set up analytics and systematic information collection to prepare for the spread of a new viral pandemic.

What sources can show more information about what politicians think about preparing for future pandemics right now?


3 Answers 3


Right now, as Covid-19 is on-going, they can't do very much to prepare for a hypothetical Covid-??. However, once the Covid-19 situation has ended, then it would be vital to do a thorough analysis of what worked, and didn't work in the Covid-19 situation.

This is one of the reasons, why the East-Asian countries, such as Hong Kong or Korea have fared so well compared to Europe; they could build on first hand experience of the SARS and MERS outbreaks.

The somewhat sad lesson is that we are smarter only afterwards. Any attempts to predict the future, and act accordingly to these predictions is bound to fail at least in part of the cases.

You find plenty of articles in the media, comparing the current, local situation to those in the East Asian countries, such as this one from the BBC. Whereever, you are from, you probably will be able to find a corresponding article from your local media, at least I have found such articles from German media.

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    "then it would be vital to do a thorough analysis of what worked, and didn't work in the Covid-19 situation" -- Historical aficionados have two words for you: Spanish Flu. Also, See Gates' TED talk from 2015. We should have been ready. We weren't. Mar 24, 2020 at 20:41
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    Also take in consideration that when measures are taken and they are effective, they get less attention. No newspaper is running titulars saying "100,000 people have not died of cholera this year thanks to sanitation and modern medicine!".
    – SJuan76
    Mar 24, 2020 at 21:25
  • @Denis: the Spanish Flu is pretty much 100 years in the past. Lessons learned have shelf lives too. We definitely learned from the Spanish Flu in general, yet specific lesson for the current pandemic? I am not sure ...
    – Dohn Joe
    Mar 25, 2020 at 8:15
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    @DohnJoe: Seeing the comparisons that have been made between Philadelphia's response and that of St Louis, a few important lessons did get learned. Mar 25, 2020 at 8:55
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    That could be a lesson for the future: be aggressive in your measures right from the start. Many countries experienced Corona-hotspots in form of cruise ships, tourist locations, other big events, etc.
    – Dohn Joe
    Mar 25, 2020 at 13:50

One should keep in mind that another pandemic may not take the form of a respiratory virus. Ebola attacks the circulatory system, so respirators would be of little use. It could also be a bacteria, parasite, or fungus, attacking other parts of the human body.

With that in mind, there are generic safeguards that any government would be wise to put in place to do better at containing an infectious pathogen before it becomes a full pandemic.

International alert system. We can't bring the world to a halt every time something new crops up, but we can assess new pathogens as to the likelihood of them spreading quickly. The international community can also consider stiff economic penalties for any nation that fails to issue an alert in a timely manner, to encourage disclosure.

Travel freeze. Most nations did this eventually, but a faster activation, and more attentiveness to the need for a travel freeze, can contain the spread, especially with the high level of international travel today. Note that the 1918 Spanish flu spread widely because so many soldiers were going back home at the end of the war, an unusually high level of international travel for that time.

Fast tracking research and countermeasures. The majority of nations tend to have a lengthy drug and treatment approval process, for patient safety. With an imminent pandemic and the high number of affected people, the possibility of mass illness or death mandates a faster approval process to address that specific situation. In that case, mass illness outweighs the need to go slow for new but not desperately needed treatments.

All of those can be put in place without a huge expenditure.

Building a lot of hospitals is expensive, keeping them operational is also very expensive. Assuming a period of at least several years until another infectious pathogen arises, extra hospitals are likely to fall into disuse, or be deactivated due to budget constraints.

An interesting possibility was demonstrated when the US Navy proposed moving one of its two large hospital ships to New York harbor, to help deal with the COVID-19 epidemic.

An internationally funded effort to build a few large hospital ships can result in state of the art treatment being available where an outbreak occurs, within a few days. A moveable hospital, to contain an infectious pathogen before it goes international. When not dealing with a pandemic, those ships can be employed assisting nations that have poor health care.


Governments will have learnt now to set other priorities:

  • Save money for the next crisis,
  • not closing hospitals,
  • preparing beds in hospitals,
  • invest money in fabrication of masks,
  • breath supporting machines ie. ventilators and oxygen devices
  • vaccination campaigns,
  • research of vaccination,
  • planning shut downs,
  • sensitize their citizens for pandemics and their impact
  • compulsory health insurance
  • solidarity not war

(just a kind of brain storming - but statistically founded


I hope they will work better together internationally. At the moment still each country tries first to find out its own measures and finally they do what the others have done - the others about which they have been mocking and shaking the head and thus they lost precious time (not only the USA vs. Europe, also Europe vs. China and European countries above others) and help each others with their resources like here:


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    "Governments will have learnt now to set other priorities" no,.. they won't. Since childhood I've heard that governments are supposed to "Save for rainy days and spend during crisis times." And given your profile pic I suppose you've heard that too. So you know it's not true. Also, getting respirators after this is fighting the last war. You know someone will make the argument somewhere -- and get listened to. Mar 24, 2020 at 20:45
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    After the crisis passes there will be money allocated to avoid a repeat, but then new crisis and other urgent matters will require resources, too, and as time passes resources will be reduced again. Research and planning will probably continue even if limited, but facilities will be scaled back to the normal needs (because why pay the cost of unused capabilities?) Which is not that bad, because you do not actually know the nature of the next crisis so you do not know what you will need to face it.
    – SJuan76
    Mar 24, 2020 at 21:07

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