International Nonprofit Targets the Flu to Prepare for the Next Pandemic
Months before the outbreak of Covid-19, a group of scientists, academics, public health professionals, and other experts met to discuss pandemic preparedness. They didn’t have a crystal ball, but they did have the expertise to know that another pandemic was inevitable — if not imminent.
We’re sorry. Something went wrong.
We are unable to fully display the content of this page.
If you continue to experience issues, contact us at 202-466-1032 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Months before the outbreak of Covid-19, a group of scientists, academics, vaccine developers, and other experts met to discuss pandemic preparedness, knowing another one was inevitable, if not imminent.
Humanity’s prospects looked grim. Few nations had pandemic plans, and many low- and lower middle-income countries were struggling to keep even seasonal influenza epidemics in check. The experts who attended the meeting decided to form Ready2Respond, a coalition of scientists, public-health officials, and pharmaceutical companies from around the globe. The effort, housed at the health-equity nonprofit the Task Force for Global Health, would research nations’ abilities to educate the public about new health threats and respond with effective treatments and policies. They would also develop adaptable strategies to help nations prepare for the next public-health emergency.
“We can’t go on just waiting for the next pandemic,” says Marie Mazur, director of Ready2Respond.
The group believes that countries that have dependable, accessible seasonal influenza vaccination programs are best prepared to combat the Covid-19 pandemic — and future worldwide disease outbreaks. Today, most countries with robust seasonal influenza vaccination programs are high-income; just 19 percent of the world’s low- and lower middle-income countries have such a program, according to Mazur.
Ready2Respond sees itself as the missing link between the entities that create vaccines — such as the private vaccine industry and philanthropic efforts like the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations — and those responsible for getting shots in arms, like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “We want to bridge innovation with implementation,” Mazur says.
Researchers identify the barriers that prevent low- and lower middle-income countries from establishing dependable seasonal influenza vaccine programs. A particular challenge is vaccinating people who live in dispersed, rural areas where health clinics are few and far between. In Mongolia, for example, donkeys are used to bring flu vaccines to nomadic people. Formalizing programs that expand access to flu vaccines will lay the groundwork for an effective pandemic response, the group believes.
Mazur says the Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the group’s commitment to establishing effective vaccine-delivery systems in every nation. “Covid-19 proved to us that the vision was right, that it was needed.”