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Scientific/Medical Question 28
If the next viral pandemic were to appear, how would you advise the government and secretary of state for health to act differently?
Firstly, awareness of where viruses originate. This means ensuring wet-markets are banned, and could also mean increased surveillance of disease within animal populations, perhaps giving some level of readiness for novel zoonotic diseases.
Then, an adequate planned response to a new virus. This would involve plans in place to scale-up hospitals and hospital capacity as needed, including frameworks to build temporary hospitals. Access to labs and additional lab capacity would also need to be ensured, and chemicals for laboratories stockpiled (this could come at significant cost, as they will likely have use-by dates and go out of date unless used).
Certain countries, like Germany and South Korea, managed to run high levels of testing from the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. This isn’t necessarily just due to ‘reagent stockpiles,’ as it is hard to stockpile the correct chemicals - it may also be due to a more efficient, or greater, manufacturing capacity. Therefore time should be taken to understand how to better produce tests quickly.
Lastly, communication with the public is key. Certain governments have done this well throughout COVID-19, and others have failed. A lot of measures taken will only be as good as the public’s willingness to engage with them - time would be well spent on ensuring communications teams are ready for such an event.