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Insight into Pandemics


Dean Michelle Williams - Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

“One hundred years later, tremendous advances have been made, no doubt, in science, in technology, and in health. It is a striking fact that in spite of all of these many advances, we are globally still underprepared for the next pandemic."

Nathan Wolfe - Virologist, Founder and Director of Global Viral and the Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Human Biology at Stanford University

“I think there is a real importance for people to understand the nature of these risks. And while we may not perceive them in the way that we perceive more visually traumatic risks like hurricanes and earthquakes, they represent, in many ways, more profound threats."

Dr Barbara A Han - Disease Ecologist at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

“Can we predict pandemics? The answer right now is no. But just because something is hard to predict does not mean we cannot quantify its risk in a useful, actionable way—a logic that the insurance industry profits from. No predictions are perfect, but at the very least, we can put boundaries on what is likely."

Dr. Ali S. Khan - former Director of the CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness.

“We are going to need a robust public health system to respond to population increase, urbanization, the aging population and increased travel, increased interaction between humans and animals that give rise to new diseases.

But instead, we've hollowed out public health, and I think this poses a great threat to the health security of our nation and global communities.

We have eradicated and eliminated some diseases from our community, but the honest truth is most diseases don't get eliminated. Most diseases come home to stay."

Ramanan Laxminarayan - Director and Senior Fellow, The Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy

“Most people don’t realise that what kills people during a pandemic is not just an influenza virus, but a secondary bacterial infection.

In many instances we don’t have effective antibiotics, this is a problem that keeps people awake at night.

Make no mistake, it’s inevitable that there will be another flu pandemic - it may happen next year, or in the next 15 years, but it is inevitable and we cannot prevent it. There is huge value in stockpiling and withholding antibiotics so we are prepared."

Jim Yong Kim - former World Bank Group President

“The Ebola outbreak has been devastating in terms of lives lost and the loss of economic growth in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. We need to make sure that we get to zero cases in this Ebola outbreak. At the same time, we need to prepare for future pandemics that could become far more deadly and infectious than what we have seen so far with Ebola. We must learn the lessons from the Ebola outbreak because there is no doubt we will be faced with other pandemics in the years to come."

Dr. Deborah Fuller - Professor of microbiology and a vaccinologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine

“Even if this particular virus goes away, there’s going to be one in the future. And so one of the ways that we’re looking at our technology is not just to design a vaccine specific for this virus, but could we make a universal vaccine against any sort of coronavirus that may come up in the future."

Dr. Peter Daszak - Disease ecologist and the president of EcoHealth Alliance

“The future of dealing with viral pandemics is, we're going to be able to prevent them.

You can predict very confidently as each year moves forward, we're going to see more and more diseases emerge. It's a little abstract to most people. And to be fair, it's new for scientists too.

We're going to see connectivity between people increase, so there's more risk of a disease emerging in remote parts of the Amazon, and actually getting into our global travel network and affecting those in London, Moscow and Delhi."

Frank Rijsberman - Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)

“We would love to see something like an eBay or a virtual marketplace for samples where demand, supply, and knowledge would come together, where people doing research on diseases in Africa collaborate with sites in Asia. The current systems are very far behind the power of the internet, and Google has the ability to build new platforms for researchers. In a couple of years we could see real concrete outputs that allow us to predict and prevent in new ways."

Dennis Carroll - Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina

“The first thing to understand is that whatever future threats we’re going to face already exist; they are currently circulating in wildlife. Think of it as viral dark matter. A large pool of viruses are circulating and we don’t become familiar with them until we see a spillover event and people getting ill.

Yes, it’s got everyone’s attention. But this coronavirus will fall off the headlines and when it does, you will see a contraction in the kind of investments that are made in it. We have war budgets and then no monies during peacetime. So part of the challenge—it’s a social engineering exercise—is getting lawmakers and investors to invest in risk. That’s really difficult."

Sarah Schlesinger - Scientist from New York’s Rockefeller University

“Urbanization has boosted zoonoses’ outbreak risks as people get closer to animals."

Maciej Boni - Associate Professor of Biology at Penn State University

“We can slow it down by canceling all these events, which we completely should do. But it’s still going to spread to most places."


Prof Stephen Morse - Epidemiologist at Columbia University

“For many years, there was complacency, thinking that infectious diseases were pretty much becoming ancient history."


Peter Sands - Executive director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

“We have neglected this dimension of global security. Pandemics don't respect national boundaries, so we have a common interest in strengthening our defenses against infectious diseases in every part of the world. Preventing and preparing for potentially catastrophic pandemics is far more effective -- and ultimately, far less expensive -- than reacting to them when they occur, which they will."


Caroline van de Sandt - Researcher in Virology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne, Australia

“Like the 1918 pandemic, the severity of any future outbreak will result from a complex interplay between viral, host and societal factors.

Understanding these factors is vital for influenza pandemic preparedness.

Climate changes affect animal reservoirs of influenza viruses and bird migration patterns. This could spread viruses to new locations and across a wider range of bird species."


Bill Gates - Co-founder of Microsoft and a co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“A more difficult pathogen [than Ebola] could come along, a form of flu, a form of SARS or some type of virus that we haven’t seen before.

We don’t know it will happen but it’s a high enough chance that one of the lessons of Ebola should be to ask ourselves: are we as ready for that as we should be? A good comparison is that we prepare ourselves for war — we have planes and training and we practise."



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