If there’s one thing that the world has learned in the past few years, it’s that pandemics are a real and present danger. From the Zika virus to Ebola to SARS, we’ve seen how easily diseases can spread and how devastating they can be. While we can’t always prevent pandemics from happening, there are things that we can do to better prepare ourselves for them. Here are five ways to help make sure you’re ready for the next pandemic:

Get vaccinated

One of the best ways to protect yourself from a pandemic is to get vaccinated. This can help you avoid getting sick in the first place, and it can also help reduce the spread of disease if there is a pandemic. Make sure you are up-to-date on all of the recommended vaccines, and don’t forget about travel vaccines.

Stay informed

It’s important to stay informed about the latest pandemic threats and what you can do to protect yourself. The best way to do this is by subscribing to credible sources of information, such as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can also find information online or from your local health department.

Wash your hands often

Washing your hands is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of disease. Make sure you wash your hands often, especially before you eat or touch your face. You can also use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Stay aware of your surroundings

If you’re traveling or living in an area that has been affected by a pandemic, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions. Avoid large crowds and close contact with people who are sick, and make sure you keep your hands clean.

Stock up on supplies

If a pandemic does occur, it’s important to have supplies on hand. This includes things like food, water, and medical supplies. You may also want to consider investing in a pandemic preparedness kit.

There is no one way to completely prepare for a potential pandemic.

However, individuals and communities can take practical steps to increase the chances of surviving a pandemic. 

The best way to prepare is to be informed. Learning about different types of pandemics and how they spread is important. It is also helpful to be aware of the symptoms of different infections.

The next step is to create a plan. Decide what you would do if a pandemic occurred in your community. This includes developing a list of contacts who can help you during a crisis, as well as deciding what supplies you would need.

It is also important to have an emergency fund. This can be used to purchase supplies in the event of a pandemic or to help cover costs associated with staying home from work.

Finally, individuals and communities should practice good hygiene. This includes washing hands regularly, sneezing into a tissue, and avoiding contact with sick people.

With the world’s gaze focused on ramping up production and delivery of 11 billion safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine doses within a year, it is important that we turn an eye to the future.

As we need to make provisions for adequate contact tracing and access to diagnosis and treatment all around the world, disease surveillance and health system strengthening are key.

What might be missed, however, is the necessary and swift sharing of pathogens with endemic, epidemic or pandemic potential, which is governed by an international agreement stemming from the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Adding public health protection

Effective beginning 2014, the Nagoya Protocol is a legally-binding, supplementary international agreement to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This agreement steers the fair and equitable sharing of benefits when genetic resources, including plants, animals and microorganisms, are used across country borders. Each country has a legal right to their genetic resources and can negotiate mutually agreed terms with other countries who wish to use these resources.The challenge is that the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol has unintended and undesirable consequences for global public health. Many countries have included pathogens, such as poliovirus, Ebola virus, coronaviruses or influenza viruses, in the scope of their access and benefit sharing legislation.Given that public health objectives are targeted at the eradication of pathogens and the CBD is aimed at the protection of biodiversity, this seems rather paradoxical, and potentially prevents sharing of samples and data on pathogens.And would have led to tremendous setbacks in a historical global response to the pandemic, in tracking, preventing and treating the disease.

Establishing a path toward pandemic preparedness

We cannot simply hope that no country will apply the Nagoya Protocol to withhold pathogen data. It is too much of a risk and we have already seen some countries engaging in such “pathogen diplomacy” with MERS, Ebola, Zika and seasonal influenza over the past decade.The devastating impact of COVID-19 and its various mutations further spotlights the need for a multilateral, legally binding solution to ensure the scientific community has access to pathogens for the development of vaccines, medicines and diagnostics.We must leverage our experiences responding to this crisis to remove obstacles for future generations facing public health emergencies. Now, as ever before, is the time to come together to share pathogens in a timely, predictable way for surveillance, epidemiology and research purposes.


We need to be better prepared for pandemics in the future. This means improving our public health infrastructure, developing new vaccines and antiviral drugs, and increasing international cooperation to share information and resources.