Coronavirus, Public Health Pandemic preparedness

March 19, 2021
By Erica K. Brockmeier | Penn Today

Perry World House and the Penn Medicine Center for Research on Coronavirus and Other Emerging Pathogens hosted a discussion about lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis and how to prepare for future pandemics. Virologists and center co-directors Frederic D. Bushman and Susan R. Weiss discussed the pandemic’s first year and what lies ahead in a conversation moderated by Harvey Rubin, professor of medicine and computational biology.

After an introduction by Perry World House Director Michael Horowitz, Rubin kicked off the discussion by emphasizing that “this is not the last pandemic,” and the importance of learning from COVID-19 to better prepare for new and emerging diseases. “The way we need to respond is a whole-of-society approach, and having the world consider this question is maybe the most important thing we could do,” said Rubin.

Weiss, who has been studying coronaviruses for her whole career, first shared a brief history of coronavirus, from discovery in the 1960s to the basic science that was key to understanding replication and infection of cells. During the SARS outbreak in 2002, researchers quickly identified a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-1, as the infectious agent, she said.

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