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Preparing for the Next Global Catastrophe

The end of the pandemic may be in sight, but COVID-19 could be a harbinger of future calamities. If global leaders do not establish equitable mechanisms to respond before the next big crisis strikes, low-income countries and high-risk groups will once again pay the highest price.

GENEVA – After two and a half years of lockdowns, quarantines, and mask mandates, billions of people around the world have returned to their normal lives. But in many ways, this newfound sense of post-pandemic normalcy is misleading. Beating COVID-19 will not mark the end of our current age of global instability, but rather the end of the beginning.

Of course, it is important to remember that the battle against COVID-19 is still far from over. More people have been infected in 2022 than in the previous two years combined, and while vaccines have brought down death rates, more than a million people worldwide have died this year after contracting the virus. And as governments begin to roll out updated booster shots, the world must brace itself for a major fall surge and the possible emergence of dangerous new variants.

But even if COVID-19 were to disappear soon, our goal must not be to return to the status quo ante. In the pre-pandemic world, governments and communities were woefully ill-prepared – not just for a deadly pathogen, but also for an explosive confluence of political and economic crises. If we continue to view the end of this pandemic as our only goal, the new normal will be just as fragile as the old one.