Preventing the next pandemic

Gerry Wright (left) will speak with Maryn McKenna about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and, more importantly, how we move forward.

28.3 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide.

More than 900,000 deaths.

Given the devastating medical, economic and social impacts of the current coronavirus outbreak, MacTalks is launching the second of its online researcher conversations with a focus on the future: preventing the next pandemic.

Gerry Wright, the inaugural lead of McMaster’s new Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats and scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, will be joined by author and journalist Maryn McKenna, a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University.

Both are experts in antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance (AMR), a growing global threat as more and more bacteria become resistant to medications designed to fight infection and speed healing – making a procedure as simple as a tooth pulling potentially deadly. In Canada, AMR is already twice as deadly as traffic accidents and homicides combined.

The next pandemic could be an existing infectious disease that morphs into something more dangerous, a new infectious disease or a virus like the one that’s so seriously impacting the world now.

Wright and McKenna are immersed in this latest pandemic, both from the perspective of increasing understanding of it, and working across boundaries to help resolve its devastating impacts.

As the inaugural lead of McMaster’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats, Wright is focused on bringing together an international network of scientists, clinical health and medical specialists, engineers, social scientists, history and policy researchers, economics and business experts devoted to one goal: preventing future pandemics and mitigating global health threats like antimicrobial resistance.

For her part, McKenna has been running an open online course, “Journalism in a Pandemic: Covering COVID-19 now and in the future,” for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, and supported by the Knight Foundation, United Nations Development Program, UNESCO, and the World Health Organization, which has drawn more than 8,500 journalists from 160 countries.

Together they’ll talk about how we got here, and, more importantly, how we get out.

MacTalks is an ongoing series of virtual conversations featuring McMaster researchers at the forefront of tackling some of the world’s most pressing challenges and bringing a global view to the many issues we face today.

The first instalment featured Karen Mossman, McMaster’s vice-president Research, in conversation with Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times columnist and inaugural Journalist in Residence for McMaster’s Faculty of Science.

MacTalks takes place on Wednesday, September 16 from 7-8 p.m. EDT.

For more information and to register, go to the event’s website.