How Can We Predict, Prevent and Pay for the Next Pandemic?

President, EcoHealth Alliance


The emergence of novel pandemics causes substantial mortality, morbidity, and economic loss. Recent analyses show that disease emergence is linked closely to human activity such as deforestation, agricultural intensification, and other forms of rapid economic development. Predictive models show that diseases emerge from emerging infectious disease (EID) “hotspots” in the tropics, and that they gravitate to richer countries via the global network of travel and trade. Dealing with this threat will require: (i) a “Smart Surveillance” strategy that uses predictive modeling to target hotspots for pathogen identification, together with programs that alter high-risk behaviors, and (ii) a way to levy payments to insure against pandemic emergence. This payment system will most likely need to be a form of insurance program, the cost of which would most likely be borne by the private sector or government agencies that engage in the activities that drive disease emergence in hotspot countries.