The US has experienced a series of epidemics during the past five decades. None has tested the nation’s resilience like the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which has laid bare critical weaknesses in US pandemic preparedness and domestic leadership and the nation’s decline in global standing in public health. Pandemic response has been politicized, proven public health measures undermined, and public confidence in a science-based public health system reduced. This has been compounded by the large number of citizens without ready access to health care, who are overrepresented among infected, hospitalized, and fatal cases. Here, as part of the National Academy of Medicine’s Vital Directions for Health and Health Care: Priorities for 2021 initiative, we review the US approach to pandemic preparedness and its impact on the response to COVID-19. We identify six steps that should be taken to strengthen US pandemic resilience, strengthen and modernize the US health care system, regain public confidence in government leadership in public health, and restore US engagement and leadership in global partnerships to address future pandemic threats domestically and around the world.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy