Investing In Disease Preparedness Represents ‘Valuable Use Of Resources,’ Critical To Global Health, Economy
Quartz: Larry Summers: Using the lessons of economics to stop global pandemics before they start
Lawrence Summers, professor at Harvard University
“…As we found during the Ebola epidemic, it is possible to get governments, donor organizations, and pharma companies to work together to produce a vaccine. But that can take months, if not years … There is no market incentive for a firm to leave production capacity unused just in case an outbreak happens. Or for it to invest the considerable sums to develop and test a new drug on the off-chance that it may one day be put to use. This is why the creation of the [Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)] is so welcome. … CEPI’s plan is to set up a pipeline, capacity, and incentives to fund the development of vaccines for the diseases that present the clearest threat to global health and the global economy — including Ebola, MERS, Nipah, and Lassa. More broadly, it will build capacity to tackle viral threats as and when they emerge, rather than waiting until they have cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars. … Even if you were to only take into account the financial costs of pandemics, there is an exceptionally strong case that the kind of global insurance policy that CEPI offers represents a valuable use of those resources. Once you factor in their appalling human cost — the loss of life and loss of opportunity — that case becomes overwhelming” (1/18).