Science to help us better prepare for future pandemics

September 21, 2023

The Australian Academy of Science welcomes the independent Inquiry into Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Academy has argued that an inquiry should be future-focused, about preparing for the next pandemic, and led by experts. The approach adopted by the Federal Government is consistent with this approach: learn from the past, prepare for the future.

It is critical that it does take this approach. The world faces challenges of a type and at a scale not seen before. Climate change and deforestation, for example, will increase the risks of pandemics.

“We need to work out how to prepare our nation, and our world, for what’s to come,” said Academy President Professor Chennupati Jagadish.

“The Academy stands ready to play its part in that process, just as it did through the COVID-19 pandemic, via the Rapid Research Information Forum.”

This innovative model provided the latest evidence to the government to help drive the country’s response to the pandemic.

Its strengths were its multi-disciplinary focus, independence, and ability to rapidly draw on Australia’s best and most relevant experts on any given policy matter.

“This model must continue to be used in the long term to ensure that decision-makers are drawing on the best available evidence-base at the time. That is the way we confront and meet challenges,” Professor Jagadish said.

“And we can’t continue to deprioritise national funding in R&D, which is on a 14-year decline, and just expect to have the capability to do what we will need to do as the challenges to our health, prosperity and security grow.”

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