On Monday February 10, 2020, the Hudson Institute and the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense hosted a panel discussion on the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and how the United States can respond to the growing outbreak effectively.
The virus has become more than a national security threat for China, as the number of the infected has exceeded 43,000 (64,000 as of Feb. 13), worldwide according to the latest data from the Nature. However, the proliferation of the epidemic in a short period should not only be attributed to its contagious characteristics. To avoid tragedy, it is essential to understand how public health regulation and management fails when faced with an unexpected outbreak of disease.
In the panel discussion, five guest speakers provided thoughtful insights on risk management and the establishment of a rapid response system. As Dr. William Karesh mentioned, precautions are necessary because it will be too late to take action once the epidemic spirals out of control. At the outset, government should establish a transparent information exchange system to inform the public what is going on and how severe the problem is. In this way, relevant departments at each level can respond to the risk accordingly, which can effectively curb the spread of the virus and other related spillover effect. Besides, pharmacy industry executive Dr. Julie Gerberding shared her view on building a Public-Private Partnership between government and private sector to invent the required vaccine and drug as soon as possible. Moreover, the public health issues are not just the concern of executive and health-related branches. The media should take responsibility for advocating healthy and safe eating habits, changing consumers' incentives and getting rid of the disease from the root.
In short, dealing with such an overwhelming public health risk requires the collaboration of different stakeholders' in the society.