Revisiting Pandemic Readiness

COVID-19 is upending pandemic preparedness predictions, underscoring the disease’s confounding nature and the mysteries that persist about how it spreads.

A Global Health Security study conducted by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security late last year found the average country rating was 40.2% prepared and only 51.9% prepared for the 60 most developed countries.

It warned, “No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.”

This prediction has borne out— with catastrophic results. But the countries that have exceeded and subverted expectations six months into the pandemic show how much early action and implementation matters in pandemic control.

The report rated the United States and United Kingdom in first and second places overall. Those countries respectively have seen the most- and third-most deaths from COVID-19 in the world.

Comparatively, New Zealand, which has achieved near-eradication, rates 35th place overall. Vietnam is another outlier, scoring 50th place in the study overall and reporting zero deaths. Following Vietnam in 51st place is China, which has reported 84,339 deaths.

Case tallies and death counts do not tell the whole story of pandemic preparedness and response by any means. And the report considered a spectrum of virtual pandemics.

But the outliers could hint to what works best in controlling it.