Most countries—including the US—we were unprepared for the COVID-19 outbreak now at our doorsteps.
We learned that last October with the release of the Global Health Security Index, which ranks 195 countries on their pandemic preparedness.
All countries scored especially low on the preparedness of their health systems to respond to an outbreak, explains Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security who co-led the report, in a March 3 webinar hosted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
And unprepared health systems can amplify transmission to the larger community. "It's not just important that we have the doctors and nurses there to save patients' lives—that's of course extraordinarily important—but we have to make sure that when patients do show up at these health facilities, what happens there is safe such that we don't inadvertently spread to the patients, the clinicians, and the broader community," Nuzzo says.
The panel, moderated by Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, also featured Tara Kirk Sell, a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security, and Lauren Sauer, director of operations at the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response.