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Why the U.S. was unprepared for a pandemic, and what can be done to mitigate the next one

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Editor's Note: This episode originally aired Dec. 2, 2021.

For almost two years, the United States has been gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50 million people have been infected and over 800,000 have died.

But did it have to be so devastating?

While novel viruses are difficult to anticipate, the public health response can be well-prepared. Author Sandro Galea argues that the pandemic was a catastrophe in part because of wider social problems — from economic inequality privileging those who can work from home, to systemic racism breeding health disparities for people of color in the U.S., to a less-than-comprehensive social safety net leaving people in need.

In order to prevent another disaster during the next pandemic, which many scientists say is only a matter of time, he argues that certain inequities must be addressed.

We sit down with Galea to discuss his new book, “The Contagion Next Time,” and to learn what exactly made the U.S. unprepared for this pandemic and what he says must change for the country to be ready for the next one.

GUEST

Sandro Galea, dean and professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, author of “The Contagion Next Time

Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.