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The Test of Pandemic Preparedness

The COVID-19 pandemic is the product of a globalized, interconnected world. Without new mechanisms that offer truly global approaches to crisis management and prevention, the experience of the past 18 months is likely to be repeated, with profound consequences for international security.

BRUSSELS – The COVID-19 pandemic has instilled many harsh lessons. But the most important is that infectious-disease outbreaks pose a risk not just to public health but also to global security. Like nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and climate change, COVID-19 has shown that pandemics can rapidly undermine social stability and economic well-being.

This point may seem obvious now. But before the COVID-19 crisis, infectious disease barely registered on the global security agenda. If efforts to change that by establishing new funding and monitoring mechanisms for pandemic preparedness are to succeed, half measures won’t cut it. To avoid a repeat of history, our preparations must reflect the true extent of the challenge. We must recognize that pandemics now represent one of the biggest – and most likely – threats to global security.

Preventing future pandemics will require not only the same level of investment as other global security threats, on which trillions are spent routinely, but also an entirely different way of thinking about global security. The pandemic represents a new form of globalized crisis, one that is both caused and exacerbated by the modern world’s interconnectedness.

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