Science, Policy & Pandemics: Preparing for Future Pandemics

20 July 2020


What have we learned about the origins and responses to Covid-19? How can we prepare for the next pandemic?

In the 17th and final episode of our series on science, policy and pandemics, CSaP Executive Director Dr Rob Doubleday was joined by Professor James Wood, Professor Andres Floto, and Professor Sylvia Richardson to explore what can be done to reduce the risk of future pandemics and how we can better use surveillance, mapping, pharmaceutical innovation, and data sharing in order to prepare for future pandemics and epidemics.

Listen to the discussion here:

Produced in partnership with Cambridge Infectious Diseases and the Cambridge Immunology Network, CSaP's Science and Policy Podcast's series on science, policy and pandemics aims to answer questions about our understanding of the current pandemic, including the epidemiology, on what basis governments are making current decisions, how much confidence we can have in the knowledge models are producing, and how to manage the uncertainties involved in the present crisis.

According to Professor James Wood, humanity has always interacted with animals, and throughout human history we have been the recipient of zoonotic infections. However, he suggests that what is different now is the scale at which this is happening. This is where he believes that human behaviour or anthropogenic drivers are critical in terms of pandemic emergence. As we learn from the lessons of the covid-19 pandemic, Professor Wood believes that we have the opportunity to gain international traction for the necessary regulations, international responses, and cultural change. For example, he posits that we may need to explore shifting to transporting frozen meat rather than transporting live animals, and that we need to do more animal disease surveillance.

Building on this point, Professor Sylvia Richardson has emphasized the need for accompanying robust disease surveillance systems monitoring human disease transmission. These systems need to increase data sharing, such that information including granular data about the spread of diseases is shared across levels of government and between governments. Meanwhile, Dr Andres Floto has suggested that improved surveillance and mapping of diseases circulating in animal populations could be accompanied by attempts to build our understanding of antiviral therapies which might be effective in treating these diseases should they ever cross the interspecies barrier.

CSaP's Science and Policy Podcast's special series on Science, Policy and Pandemics is available across all major podcasting platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Google Play, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Podbean, ListenNotes, Acast, Player.FM, Podcast Addict, and Castbox.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash