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We are woefully unprepared for pandemic threat, says economist Larry Summers

Summers
While the world takes dramatic and costly steps to prevent the calamitous impact of climate change, preparations for a worldwide pandemic on the scale of the 1918 flu are vastly underfunded and ill-formed. This grim message was recently delivered to Stanford faculty and students by Harvard economist Larry Summers, PhD, who warned an influenza pandemic would devastate economies and political stability worldwide.

“My biggest fear is that the world is way short of focus on all the issues associated with pandemic,” said Summers, former treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and Harvard president emeritus, who in recent years has focused on the economics of global health care.

“We are talking about something that could kill surely tens of millions and perhaps 100 million people, and the Stanford football program is substantially more expensive than the WHO budget for pandemic flu,” he said. “It’s just crazy that we are so underinvested and underprepared.”

Read more in my online Stanford Health Policy piece.

Photo of Larry Summers and Paul Wise, MD, by Steve Castillo

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