We are not as prepared as we should be for next pandemic, experts say

·2 min read

The World Health Organization said Friday that COVID-19 is no longer a global emergency, but experts believe we are losing time preparing for the next pandemic.

“The increased frequency of outbreaks means we should not be asking if we will face another serious public health threat, but when,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked her, “What I am hearing you say is despite good intentions, your agency is not as prepared as it should be if God forbid?”

Walensky said she would agree with that.

Lawmakers discussed what’s called the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, or PAHPA. It not only addresses preparations for pandemics but also threats like natural disasters, attacks and accidents.

“We don’t always agree, but we set politics aside and come together on reauthorizing PAHPA,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said. “We know PAHPA is critical in protecting the health and safety and security of us all.”

We all remember how difficult it was to get PPE like masks and hand sanitizer at some point during the pandemic, both for the general public and healthcare workers.

“The first problem I am trying to solve is how ASPR can secure more quickly the tools and supplies the country needs when responding to a biothreat or disaster,” said Dawn O’Connell, Assistant Secretary of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, or ASPR.

Officials are also trying to figure out how they can hire healthcare workers faster to treat surges in patients.

The CDC said it needs to have more authority to get data in order to prevent another disease outbreak.

“The only way we do that is by getting the reporting into CDC so that we can again give it back to the communities and they know that this rare thing that happened in their county is actually also happening in the county next to them,” Dr. Walensky added.

Right now, scientists say there are seven “viral families” they believe could cause the next pandemic. Like COVID-19, they are respiratory viruses, which means they spread easily from person to person.

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