In the end of the day, we could have prepared more severely, reacted more quickly, protected ourselves more effectively, communicated more actively and so on. But the next time there is a public health threat, we are better. Should I see the candidate. Or should I just leave? Not necessarily. Knowing how many ways we mishandled COVID 19 is like knowing the number of pages in a textbook to study before an exam. It gives us an idea of the task ahead, but not how difficult it will be. Developing solutions means studying the problems and working out solutions. From this pandemic there is a lot of material to cover. And we have no idea when the next test is expected. With guidance from the University of Washington Alliance for pandemic preparedness, the TIME science and health team set out to make a study guide of sorts. In late May, TIME sent a list of about 50 initiatives that could mitigate the next health crisis to experts who could expect to be involved. We asked them to score each strategy's priority and feasibility on a scale of 1 to 5. 73 responses came back from thought leaders in public health, infectious disease, immunology, hospital administration, data and technology, environment and climate, health inequity, supply chains and biosecurity. A third were outside the U.S, covering 16 countries.
The responses give a blueprint for a better world. At the top of the list was bolstering vaccine research and manufacturing — rated by experts as the most urgent and highest-impact initiatives. Improved systems that alert the world to new diseases also scored high. More importantly, these proposals also produced strong feasibility scores, meaning experts saw either few obstacles to implementation or large momentum to overcome the challenges. Other initiatives are harder to achieve. Ranked as high priority, but less feasible were expanding access to health care, distributing vaccines fairly and other strategies to improve inequalities that have exacerbated COVID 19's toll on vulnerable populations. Leadership and communication strategies were considered not very likely and moderately feasible in the other end of the spectrum, while land-use strategy was deemed as not very effective and also not very likely to happen. The above chart shows the average rating for each strategy but does not indicate consensus in each case. A number of the strategies received both low and high scores. Some of those differences surely come from different disciplines of expertise which are vast; To capture this essential context, five health leaders previously recognized as TIME 100 influencers analyzed the important findings in the links below. The points they make not only underscore what we already know — that we could have managed COVID 19 better — but also where should we look for the right answers.