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January 6, 2022

The First 2 Years of COVID-19: Lessons to Improve Preparedness for the Next Pandemic

Author Affiliations
  • 1Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
JAMA. 2022;327(3):217-218. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.24394

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office in China reported novel “viral pneumonias of unknown cause” in Wuhan, but China did not confirm case clusters until January 3, 2020. Two years later, more than 285 million cases and 5.4 million deaths have been reported. As of December 2021, more than 800 000 COVID-19 deaths have occurred in the US, surpassing the 675 446 total deaths that occurred during the great influenza pandemic of 1918. The COVID-19 pandemic reduced global economic growth by an estimated 3.2% in 2020, with trade declining by 5.3%; an estimated 75 million people entered extreme poverty, with 80 million more undernourished compared with prepandemic levels.1 Although the COVID-19 and 1918 influenza pandemics stand alone in morbidity and mortality, evidence suggests the frequency of infectious disease emergencies will increase. What lessons does COVID-19 teach to advance preparedness, detection, and response?

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