Preventing the Next Pandemic
Although COVID-19 is not the first pandemic to move quickly and lethally through human populations, it is the latest example of the existential threat faced by global societies that remain vulnerable to the rampant and contagious viruses that are emerging as the result of environmental changes and human migration. Coronavirus is just one example of what experts believe will be a long string of adverse health and economic consequences due to global warming, population pressures, land use changes and the disruption of food supplies that accompany the loss of species diversity.
As the only U.S. school of public health with a dedicated epidemiology department focused on infectious diseases, YSPH is addressing these issues and finding solutions. As part of its future focus, the school plans to expand current collaborations with top researchers at the Yale Schools of Management, Medicine, the Environment, Law, Engineering, Nursing and Yale College. A multidisciplinary approach is required in this period of global upheaval caused by the convergence of multiple threats to health and society. As future public health leaders, our students must acquire diverse skills to address emerging pandemics across multiple domains such as health policy, environmental management and the adequate and equitable provision of health care services. We must address the added burden on all vulnerable populations. YSPH is already working with brilliant partners across Yale with whom robust research relationships are well-established and growing.
Central to pandemic preparedness is the prevention and management of emerging infectious diseases. This is similar to the prevention and management of global disasters. Both depend on a capability to gather and analyze human and environmental samples quickly. The Yale Schools of Public Health and Medicine, drawing from their multidisciplinary expertise, propose to create a pandemic preparedness program that will:
- Facilitate the building of a state-of-the-art biorepository to serve as a modern home for genetic materials, blood samples, tissue samples and other biological materials along with a sophisticated database of relevant clinical information.
- Leverage strengths in host and pathogen genetics as well as host immune responses to identify more precise ways of interrupting disease spread.
- Leverage strength in biostatistics and bioinformatics to analyze and extrapolate our findings to better understand the epidemiology, causal inference and impact of factors such as climate which are well beyond the scope of what the biomedical sector now attends to.
- Develop preventive policies, educational opportunities and novel approaches to train tomorrow’s public health professionals.