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Fighting the Next Pandemic Will Require Public–Private Partnerships

Businesses have a crucial role to play in mitigating the effects of the next pandemic, Emergent BioSolutions President and CEO Robert G. Kramer writes in a recent column.

Policy moves: Effectively combating future public health challenges will require the right mix of private- and public-sector efforts, Kramer says.

  • “The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic taught us we lacked sufficient domestic manufacturing capacity. The last two years have taught us the capacity we built wasn’t at a sufficient level of readiness. Based on our efforts to address those identified issues at our Bayview facility, Emergent has the battle scars and experience to provide critical insight into what comes next.”
  • Recent bipartisan draft legislation from Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) would help develop U.S. pandemic preparedness, in part by encouraging “more timely and transparent communication between federal preparedness agencies and their industry partners.”

Be better prepared: The success of the mRNA vaccine in combating COVID-19 does not mean pharmaceutical companies should now only produce mRNA vaccines, writes Kramer.

  • “To truly be prepared for the future, we need to take an expansive view of potential public health threats and start creating new capabilities, thinking beyond vaccines and working collaboratively to incentivize the private sector to be better prepared before the next public health threat strikes.”

A symbiotic relationship: “Government needs the expertise and capabilities of the private industry. Private industry needs the commitment and resources of government to achieve of state of readiness and quickly scale. The first step to improving that public–private relationship comes through consistent and transparent communication.”

The last word: The private sector should invest now in the science that will be needed in the future, and the government should create the conditions needed to attract those investments. “We can’t wait for the next crisis to invest. As the old Chinese proverb goes, ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.’”

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