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What Three Decades Of Pandemic Threats Can Teach Us About The Future
Health Affairs Blog

ne of the most important challenges facing the new Administration is preparedness for the pandemic outbreak of an infectious disease. Infectious diseases will continue to pose a significant threat to public health and the economies of countries worldwide. The U.S. government will need to continue its investment to combat these diseases wherever they emerge, and to conduct crucial research and development of medical countermeasures in the form of vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics to rapidly respond to emerging infectious disease threats.

In the 1960s, many notable physicians and scientists expressed the belief that the availability of antibiotics and vaccines meant that infectious diseases would not pose a serious threat in the future. However, these individuals failed to look beyond the borders of resource-rich countries or to recognize that new diseases would continue to emerge, and diseases would re-emerge in new locations and geographic areas where they had been previously eliminated. Today, infectious diseases cause approximately 15 percent of all deaths around the world, accounting for approximately 8.4 million deaths in 2015.