Currents 099: Samuel Scarpino on Preparing for the Next Pandemic

Jim talks with Samuel Scarpino about what we’ve learned from Covid-19 and how to apply those lessons to preparing for the next pandemic. They discuss takeaways from cross-national comparisons, the social misery index, the failure to control the spread in the U.S., the efficacy of border closure, the test-trace-isolate strategy, what the U.S. should be ready to do in the event of the Big One, capacity for rapid test development, how universities responded in the first wave, Covid as a warning shot, local & federal coordination for pandemic preparedness, the effectiveness of ventilation, airport surveillance, wastewater surveillance, novel pathogen tests, the information chain, educating bureaucrats, leaders who can build public trust, vaccine hesitancy, overconfidence in the speed of mRNA vaccine development, the poor implementation of digital contact tracing, instating a constitutional provision for a first-class emergency, the boringness of good governance, putting vaccines in the public domain, pre-planning scenarios, how a preparedness initiative can pay for itself, and much more.
Samuel V. Scarpino, PhD, is the Director of AI + Life Sciences at the Institute for Experiential AI at Northeastern University and a Professor of the Practice in Health and Computer Sciences. He holds appointments in the Institute for Experiential AI and the Network Science, Global Resilience, and Roux Institutes. Prior to joining Northeastern in November 2022, Scarpino was the Vice President of Pathogen Surveillance at The Rockefeller Foundation and Chief Strategy Officer at Dharma Platform (a social impact, technology startup). Outside of these roles, he has over 10 years of experience translating research into decision support and data science/AI tools across diverse sectors from public health and clinical medicine to real estate and energy.