Africa in 2018 was a new chapter for pandemic preparedness. Ebola continued to demonstrate gaps in outbreak response and containment. In Western nations, misinformation and junk news were driving people’s attitudes towards vaccines and epidemics. In a world divided by drastic economic differences, some countries were withholding information about emerging pathogens to apply political pressure. Then again, there were new initiatives, road maps, and funding mechanisms overcoming political and procedural obstacles.
In September 2018, the Harvard Global Health Institute hosted Outbreak Week. Inspired by the centennial of the 1918 influenza pandemic, Outbreak Week convened leading researchers, policy makers, health advocates, economists, doctors, journalists, historians, and other experts from across Harvard and from institutions around the world. From how epidemic responses are financed to why Merck is hesitant to repeat the experiences of developing an Ebola vaccine, Outbreak Week 2018 was a multi-disciplinary deep dive on pandemic preparedness.