scdavies1_Phil BarkerFuture Publishing via Getty Images_covid contact tracing Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images

An Ounce of Pandemic Prevention

The global response to the coronavirus pandemic, for all its flaws, has yielded impressive results by ignoring traditional bureaucratic and sectoral silos. That should spur us to raise our ambitions for global public health, with an emphasis on universal, equitable, and affordable access to quality care.

LONDON – With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout gaining momentum, world leaders have a chance to focus more on the future of public health. Both domestically and through multilateral organizations such as the G20, the G7, and the G77, the aim should be to strengthen the structures that proved so essential in managing the pandemic.

The World Health Organization, for example, played a critical role in marshaling disparate stakeholders behind a common purpose. Through collaborations like the groundbreaking Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, governments, multilateral organizations, corporations, and philanthropists have helped to deliver vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to parts of the world that lack them.

Indeed, we have witnessed an unprecedented level of international, public-private, and private-to-private collaboration during the pandemic. When there was an urgent need for contact-tracing apps, large tech competitors put their rivalries aside to work toward a solution with public-health agencies. The rapid development, testing, and production of vaccines has been a cross-industry undertaking involving governments, academic institutions, start-ups, and large pharmaceutical companies. The same goes for data collation and disease forecasting, which has involved a mix of academia, the tech sector, and government agencies.