Dr. Ashish Jha: What the Pandemic Teaches Us About Public Health

As an internationally recognized public health expert, Dr. Ashish Jha knew that a global pandemic wasn’t a matter of if, but when. In the early days of COVID-19, Dr. Jha predicted that the United States would handle the pandemic well because of the country’s advanced biomedical infrastructure, laboratory capabilities, healthcare system, and testing resources. A year later, his view on America’s ability to respond to a pandemic, both at the public and private sector level, has evolved. “I overemphasized technical capability and undervalued governance, leadership, communication, and social cohesion.” Dr. Jha, the Dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, shares his thoughts on America’s botched response to COVID-19, what we can learn from it, and how to improve public health to better prepare us for when (not if) the next global pandemic emerges.

Listen to this episode to learn:

  • How environmental and climate change, as well as globalization, are causing more novel diseases to emerge and spread — and why we should expect more pandemics in the future
  • Why the politicalization of Covid-19 undermined public health messages and amplified conspiracy theories and misinformation
  • Ways to improve communication and warnings during a public health emergency
  • Why trust is currency and why what people believe is driven by who they trust
  • How complex vaccine distribution plans create inequality, and why a simple lottery system might be more a equitable solution to get vaccines out faster
  • Parallels between the pandemic and the climate crisis
  • When will we get back to normal, and what will normal look like?
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