How will we deal with the next pandemic?

While most of the world is still grappling with COVID, some countries — mostly wealthy ones with early access to vaccines — are thinking about preparing for the next pandemic. This sentiment ties into a wider debate about health security that was missing when the virus hit us all early last year.

Indeed, we should aspire to ensure the health security of our population instead of waiting for it to get sick, Flagship Pioneering CEO Noubar Afeyan said on June 9, during a live discussion, Stronger Partnerships for a Healthier World: Mutually Assured Protection — the second in GZERO Media's two-part discussion, Beyond the Pandemic: A Radical New Approach to Health Security, presented in partnership with Flagship Pioneering.


That'll only be possible with a level of global cooperation that remains absent even during the current pandemic, noted Eurasia Group and GZERO Media President Ian Bremmer. Right now, we seem to have learned nothing from COVID, he explained, citing the example of the US, which is more interested in investing on the tech that's on your smartphone to compete with China than in a system to help keep Americans safe from the next virus.

Also, it's too early to really talk about a global recovery when COVID is still ravaging so many parts of the world. For IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, "a two-track pandemic means a two-track recovery" which will hold the entire planet back for years. She called for all countries to focus on vaccines as the cornerstone of their economic policies, and for rich nations to realize that helping poor ones recover is in their economic interest.

UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said that this week's G7 meeting comes at the perfect time for the world's wealthiest democracies, alongside a few like-minded friends, to make strong commitments on procuring vaccines for low-income nations and donating those they don't need right now. That's fine, but "don't commit to what you cannot achieve," remarked Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor at the University of Global Health Equity, who called out rich countries and multilateral organizations like the IMF for often not walking the talk on their pledges to the developing world.

Meanwhile, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel underscored that his goal is to end the pandemic in 2022, not later, and the best hope for that to happen is for governments to help vaccine makers get hold of scarce raw materials instead of demanding patent waivers. It was capital markets and not governments, he added, that Moderna got the money from to conduct the research into mRNA technology to develop COVID jabs in record time.

Other key moments of the program:

  • US Navy Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) on the importance of using military forces to deploy soft power, for instance on vaccine distribution logistics.
  • President of Global Policy & Advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Gargee Ghosh on how even enemy governments can collaborate on health, like the US and the Soviet Union did on a smallpox vaccine at the height of the Cold War.
  • Geoff Martha, chairman and CEO of Medtronic, on whether or not we should nationalize certain parts of global supply chains to better deal with the next public health crisis.
  • Procter & Gamble President of Global Home Care Sundar Raman on how experience in corporate partnerships applies to health security.
  • Junaid Bajwa, chief medical scientist at Microsoft, on the looming shortage of doctors and other medical professionals that'll severely impact our capacity to respond to a public health crisis like a pandemic 10 years from now.
  • Nestlé Health Service CEO Greg Behar on why we need a three-pronged — regulatory, government, and tech — proactive approach on health security partnerships.
  • Amitabh Chandra, Director of Health Policy Research at the Harvard Kennedy School, on imagining a "parallel universe" in which Pfizer and Moderna had started developing COVID vaccines when the pandemic started, and why vaccine patent waivers are a "death sentence."

The first day of the series on June 8, Beyond the Pandemic: A Radical New Approach to Health Security, discussed what we could learn from COVID to prevent the next pandemic.

Learning from COVID to Prevent the Next Pandemic | GZERO Media Live youtu.be

This 2-day event was produced by GZERO Media in partnership with Flagship Pioneering. We thank our event partners, Partnership for a Healthier America and Medtronic.

Ken Burns discusses Muhammad Ali's background and how the journey of boxing's greatest champion is just as relevant today—in sport, culture and beyond.

"He is speaking to us with a kind of force and clarity...that to me is just so enduring." - Ken Burns

No country in the Western Hemisphere is more closely associated with disaster and misery than the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Its latest upheaval centers on news that the country's top prosecutor wants Haiti's prime minister to answer questions about the murder of the president in July. Haiti is again locked in a power struggle among competing factions within its ruling elite.

Why is Haiti still so poor and disaster-prone?

More Show less

"Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still." — Harry S. Truman

The former US president's warning feels particularly prescient as world leaders prepare to gather at the 76th United National General Assembly in New York City, the first such in-person event in over 18 months. The importance of apt leadership in determining societies' ability to cope — and survive — has been on full display since COVID-19 enveloped the globe, decimating communities and killing some 4.5 million people.

More Show less

As the 76th UN General Assembly gets underway, dealing with the pandemic is still the top priority for world leaders. But for John Frank, vice president of UN Global Affairs at Microsoft, COVID is not the only major challenge the world faces today.

One of them — included in the UN Secretary-General's new Common Agenda for strong, inclusive pandemic recovery — is a different way to measure economic growth beyond the traditional productivity-led GDP model by taking more into account the cost of pollution, one of the main causes of climate change.

More Show less

For UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the pandemic has made the world even more divided than it was before COVID. That's especially true on climate, in his view, because rich and poor countries simply don't trust each other anymore. If we want COP26 to succeed, Guterres says we must rebuild that trust — or face the consequences of inaction. "If you are on the verge of an abyss, you must be careful about your next step." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

"Pandemic" was the most used word of 2020. "Delta" looks set to inherit this year's title.

Vaccination rates are ticking up slowly. Governments aren't talking to each other enough. Parts of the world are back to normal, while others are still locked down.

Have we actually made any progress since the COVID-19 outbreak?


Unfinished Business: Is the World Really Building Back Better?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 11am ET/ 8am PT

Our speakers:

Special appearance by António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

Visit gzeromedia.com/globalstage to watch on the day of the event.

Salvadorans protest Bukele, Bitcoin: Thousands of people took to the streets of El Salvador's capital on Wednesday, the 200th anniversary of the country's independence, to protest against President Nayib Bukele's increasingly authoritarian streak and his embrace of risky cryptocurrency. Last May, Bukele ended the Supreme Court's independence; perhaps unsurprisingly, the court then decided to lift the constitutional ban on presidential term limits — presumably so Bukele can run for reelection in 2024. Meanwhile, last week El Salvador became the first country in the world to accept Bitcoin as legal tender, but the rollout was, to put it mildly, messy. The protesters resent Bukele's dictator vibes and warn that Bitcoin could spur inflation and financial instability. The tech-savvy president, for his part, insists that crypto will bring in more cash from remittances and foreign investment, and remains immensely popular among most Salvadorans. Still, Bukele's Bitcoin gamble could erode his support if the experiment fails.

More Show less

22.7 million: Trinidad-born US rapper Nicki Minaj has caused a political uproar after telling her 22.7 million Twitter followers that the COVID vaccine caused her Trinidadian cousin's friend to get swollen testicles and become impotent. The country's health minister called out Minaj, as did the White House.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

UNGA 76: Vaccines, climate, crises

Coronavirus

UN Chief: Still time to avert climate “abyss”

GZERO World Clips

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal