Understanding Difference Between Pandemics, Epidemics Critical To Preparedness Efforts

CIDRAP: COMMENTARY: Pandemic preparedness and missed opportunities
Michael T. Osterholm, director of CIDRAP

“…[The PATH report released last week] … generates some confusion about preparing and responding to pandemics versus preparing and responding to epidemics. … It seems we’ve lost an understanding of the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic and what is required to prepare and respond to each. And that greatly hinders the public health, medical, and business communities — as well as governments and philanthropic organizations — from clearly articulating and acting on meaningful preparedness activities. … [T]here are only two infectious disease situations that can be considered inevitable, serious pandemic threats: influenza and antimicrobial resistance. … [Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA)] support, as essential as it is to addressing diseases of critical regional importance, will not begin to touch the most minimal of required preparedness activities for a pandemic. Confusing these two requirements … is a costly mistake for public health. … The influenza and antimicrobial pandemic clocks are ticking … Misunderstanding and misrepresenting what we need to do to be better prepared takes an understanding of what a pandemic is and what it isn’t…” (10/31).

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