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The Lessons of a Pandemic

Experts in government, medicine, business and public health who have been on the frontlines of responding to COVID-19 about the lessons learned (Video: The Washington Post)

COVID-19 has been the unprecedented public health emergency of our lifetime. But while disruptive, the pandemic also nurtured a sense of common purpose and a focus on the importance of preparedness.

Washington Post Live convened experts in government, medicine, business, and public health who have been on the frontlines of responding to COVID-19 to reflect on the lessons learned, the most effective medical and economic interventions, and best practices for recovery.

Click here for transcript

Highlights

Children’s National Hospital CEO Kurt Newman, MD, says the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on children in Washington, D.C., with over 2,000 positive cases and 400 hospitalized. "And many of those required being the ICU,” Newman added. (Video: Washington Post Live)
Children’s National Hospital CEO Kurt Newman, MD, says vaccines being approved for children before next school year will be a “tight race." “It’s going to take some time to see the safety and efficacy of these vaccines.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
Children’s National Hospital CEO Kurt Newman, MD, says the hospital has seen that Black and Brown children appear to be at higher risk for contracting covid-19. “Their testing positivity was much higher and the impact of disease was also more impactful so that’s something we’re studying as well.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
Several European countries suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine following incidents of blood-clotting in recipients. Journalist and author Laurie Garrett said, “Even before Norway saw four individuals throw blood clots and suspect that it was linked to the vaccine, even before then, this was already a very controversial product for Europeans.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
Journalist and author Laurie Garrett says one of the biggest threats from the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in several European countries is increased vaccine hesitancy. “The biggest risk here — and it is huge — is this is in some of the very same countries… where there was a huge amount of vaccine hesitancy.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
Tom Frieden, MD, former CDC director and president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, says the CDC “got it pretty much right” with their guidance for newly vaccinated people. “No vaccine is 100 percent. I think we get into this dichotomy of saying it’s gotta be completely safe or completely risky. Fact is, there are a lot of gray areas, so I think the CDC got it pretty much right…but they’re balancing a lot of considerations.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
Tom Frieden, MD, says the most common question he heard from a focus group of vaccine-hesitant Trump voters was about the long-term effects of the vaccines. “[T]he honest answer is I can’t tell you for sure that there won’t be some rare, bad reaction to this vaccine because it hasn’t been around for a long time. I can tell you, however, that if you get the virus you are much more likely to have a long-term bad effect.” (Video: Washington Post Live)

Guests

Thomas R. Frieden

Dr. Tom Frieden is the president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives (an initiative of Vital Strategies) and a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2009 to 2017, and the former commissioner of the New York City Department of Health Department. Resolve to Save Lives works with countries to prevent 100 million deaths and to make the world safer from epidemics @DrTomFrieden, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Laurie Garrett

Laurie Garrett wrote her first bestselling book, THE COMING PLAGUE: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance, while splitting her time between the Harvard School of Public Health and the New York newspaper, Newsday. In the 1992-93 academic years Garrett was a Fellow at Harvard, where she worked closely with the emerging diseases group, a collection of faculty concerned about the surge in epidemics of previously unknown or rare viruses and bacteria. The book was published in hardcopy by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in 1994, and spent 19 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Released in paperback in 1995 by Viking Penguin, THE COMING PLAGUE remains in print and continues to sell vigorously. The book was released in e-book form in May 2011.

During the 1990s Garrett continued tracking outbreaks and epidemics worldwide, noting the insufficient responses from global public health institutions in Zaire, India, Russia and most of the former USSR, Eastern Europe, and the United States. This resulted in publication in 2000 of BETRAYAL OF TRUST: The Collapse of Global Public Health, released by Hyperion that year, and in paperback in 2001. BETRAYAL OF TRUST was also a vigorous seller, and remains in print today. It was also released as an e-book in May 2011.

In Summer 2011 , Garrett’s long-awaited third book, I HEARD THE SIRENS SCREAM: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks, was published in time for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 by Amazon as an e-book. It is also available on Kindle and in paperback.

Garrett is a Member of the World Economic Forum Global Health Security Advisory Board. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the National Association for Science Writers.

Garrett helped create the Noguchi Africa Prize and has three times served as its judge.

Listed as a twice-ver “Cassandra”, in WARNINGS: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes (2017), Richard A. Clarke and R.P. Eddy, HarperCollins Publishers.

Kurt Newman

Dr. Kurt Newman is president and chief executive officer of Children's National Hospital. He is a surgeon and recognized leader in pediatric health care nationally and in Washington, D.C.

Since becoming CEO of Children’s National in 2011, he has fostered a culture of patient-centered care and championed a culture of innovation in research, operations and clinical care. Dr. Newman is a strong advocate for expanding mental health access for kids and has led two national forums on this issue.

Dr. Newman joined Children’s National as a surgical fellow in 1984 and became Surgeon-in-Chief and Senior Vice President for the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care in 2003. In 2009, he was instrumental in securing the transformational $150 million gift to create the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National. The institute has the bold vision of making surgery for children minimally invasive and pain-free.

In 2017, Dr. Newman’s medical memoir, Healing Children: A Surgeon’s Stories from the Frontiers of Pediatric Medicine, debuted as an Amazon bestseller in pediatrics and earned national attention and critical praise in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post and Harvard Business Review. All of the proceeds from his book go to pediatric research.

Content from PhRMA

This content was produced and paid for by a Washington Post Live event sponsor. The Washington Post newsroom was not involved in the production of this content.

When the pandemic began, America’s biopharmaceutical companies immediately started to develop solutions to help diagnose, treat and prevent COVID-19 infection. While authorized vaccines provide hope that this pandemic may soon be over, the biopharmaceutical industry is preparing for the next public health emergency. PhRMA’s CEO, Stephen J. Ubl, will share lessons the biopharmaceutical has learned from COVID-19, what allowed the industry to respond so quickly and how we need to plan for future pandemics. (Video: Washington Post Live)

Beating COVID-19 and Preparing for the Future

When the pandemic began, America’s biopharmaceutical companies immediately started to develop solutions to help diagnose, treat and prevent COVID-19 infection. While authorized vaccines provide hope that this pandemic may soon be over, the biopharmaceutical industry is preparing for the next public health emergency.

PhRMA’s CEO, Stephen J. Ubl, will share lessons the biopharmaceutical industry has learned from COVID-19, what allowed the industry to respond so quickly and how we need to plan for future pandemics.

Stephen J. Ubl, President and Chief Executive Officer, PhRMA

Stephen J. Ubl is president and chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which represents America’s leading biopharmaceutical research companies. The U.S. biopharmaceutical sector directly employs more than 800,000 Americans and invests more than $100 billion in research and development annually -- more than any other industry in America.

Mr. Ubl leads PhRMA’s work preserving and strengthening a health care and economic environment that encourages medical innovation, new drug discovery and access to life-saving medicines. Ubl is recognized around the world as a leading health care advocate and policy expert who collaborates successfully with diverse stakeholder groups – including patient and physician groups, regulators, public and private payers, and global trade organizations – to help ensure timely patient access to innovative treatments and cures. “If anyone can find areas of agreement with the critics, or at least work productively with them, it may be Mr. Ubl," the New York Times wrote in February 2016. "He is more conversant with the intricacies of health policy, and more adept at the politics."

As president and CEO of medical technology association AdvaMed, Ubl helped facilitate landmark reforms related to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration product review process and Medicare’s coverage and reimbursement of medical technologies. He led the industry’s defense of breakthrough R&D, successfully delaying an innovation-stifling device tax, and, in 2013, was recognized by a leading industry publication as one of 10 people to have a lasting impact on the medical technology industry.

Ubl has worked extensively with patient advocacy organizations in health policy, including longstanding service on the board of the National Health Council, a leading umbrella organization for voluntary health care organizations and has been personally involved with JDRF (formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

He is routinely recognized as one of Washington’s most effective advocates, and, in 2019, was named one of Business Insider’s “DC Healthcare Power Players.” He is consistently named to Modern Healthcare’s “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” list and is identified as a top health influencer by Medical Marketing & Media and PR Week magazines.

Prior to AdvaMed, Ubl was vice president of legislation for the Federation of American Hospitals. He began his Washington career on Capitol Hill.

Interviewed by Elise Labott, Adjunct Professor, American University

Elise Labott is a leading journalist covering foreign US foreign policy and international issues. Elise is a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine and before that was CNN’s Global Affairs Correspondent. She has reported from more than . 80 countries, traveled the world with seven secretaries of state and has interviewed many world leaders and newsmakers. Elise is the founder of Twopoint.o Media, a digital media platform that aims to engage, inform and inspire citizens to solve today’s most pressing global challenges, and an adjunct professor at American University’s School of International Service. She is a contributor to Politico, provides commentary for MSNBC, NPR, BBC and several other broadcast outlets and is a sought-after interviewer and moderator. Elise also serves as a global ambassador for Vital Voices, an organization that empowers female entrepreneurs around the world and is on the advisory committee of Global Kids DC, a program which introduces high school students in underserved communities to international affairs. Prior to joining CNN, Elise covered the UN for ABC News and also reported on diplomatic and foreign policy issues for Agence France-Presse and other publications. Elise is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a master’s degree from the New School for Social Research.

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