From a scientific standpoint, the world is more prepared than ever to respond to infectious disease outbreaks; paradoxically, globalization and air travel, antimicrobial resistance, the threat of bioterrorism, and newly emerging pathogens driven by ecological, socioeconomic, and environmental factors, have increased the risk of global epidemics.1,2,3 Following the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), global efforts to build global emergency response capabilities to contain infectious disease outbreaks were put in place.4,5,6 But the recent H1N1, Ebola, and Zika global epidemics have shown unnecessary delays and insufficient coordination in response efforts.7,8,9,10 In a thoughtful and compelling essay,11 Thana C. de Campos argues that greater clarity in the definition of pandemics would probably result in more timely effective emergency responses, and pandemic preparedness. In her view, a central problem is that the definition of pandemics is based solely on disease transmission across several countries, and not on spread and severity together, which conflates two very different situations: emergency and nonemergency disease outbreaks. A greater emphasis on severity, such that pandemics are defined as severe and rapidly spreading infectious disease outbreaks, would make them “true global health emergencies,” allowing for priority resource allocation and effective collective actions in emergency response efforts. Sympathetic to the position taken by de Campos, here I highlight some of the challenges in the definition of severity during an infectious disease outbreak.
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- ACC 2020The American College of Cardiology decided to cancel ACC.20/WCC due to COVID-19, which was scheduled to take place March 28-30 in Chicago. However, ACC.20/WCC Virtual Meeting continues to release cutting edge science and practice changing updates for cardiovascular professionals on demand and free through June 2020.
- CROI 2020Every year, CROI hosts some of the world's leading experts in HIV research, who come to present exciting new data and drive forward the field of HIV/AIDS research. This year, due to COVID-19, CROI held their meeting virtually.