COVID-19 has forced us to re-learn the importance of maintaining basic infectious/communicable disease control capacity, and revealed the cost of our failure to do so. It has also drawn our attention to the intersection between social inequality, racism and colonialism, and vulnerability to disease. In addition to investing in our capacity to contain disease outbreaks as they occur, we must plan now for how to achieve greater health equity in the future, by addressing underlying economic and social conditions, and providing meaningful access to preventive care for all. This is how we build a truly resilient society.

“COVID-19 is not the first pandemic we have faced and it won’t be the last. History shows the best way to prepare for emergencies is to invest effectively in public health in advance. This paper draws on the lessons of outbreaks past and present to show how we can build resilience, preparedness, and greater health equity,” said Esyllt Jones, Chair of the Working Group that authored this Royal Society of Canada (RSC) Policy Briefing.