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Will we learn from this pandemic?

In 2019, the Global Health Security (GHS) Index, a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU) developed with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), found no country was fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics. Collectively, international preparedness was weak. Will Covid-19 change this?

A recent working paper using a natural experiment administered before and after the 2014 West African Ebola Outbreak, suggests “no”. At least if this depends on (US) citizens' preferences. Prior to the Ebola scare, US citizens placed a low relative priority on public spending to prepare for a pandemic disease outbreak relative to an environmental disaster risk (e.g., Fukushima) or a terrorist attack (e.g., 9/11). These priorities did not change after the Ebola scare, nothwithstanding the well-known availability heuristic—people tend to over-weigh the likelihood and importance of events more heavily toward more recent information. 

Link to the paper here

Posted by Maria Perrotta Berlin,


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