- Julie Gerberding, Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer, Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy, and Population Health, Merck
- Jan Van Acker, President, Emerging Markets Human Health, Merck (introduction)
- Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Americas Society/Council of the Americas (welcome)
The world has a choice to make as we face the COVID-19 pandemic: do we just work to get through this and then collapse back to “business as usual”? Or can we do more than survive and strive to be better prepared societies? Infectious disease expert and Merck executive Dr. Julie Gerberding made a compelling case for the latter in her remarks at a virtual event, part of the AS/COA Healthcare series. “Health security is national security,” said the former head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2002–2009). “If we don’t prioritize our investments, we have no national security," she said. "It is just as important as military spending and our national defense when it comes to improving and protecting the lives of citizens on a day-to-day basis.” Gerberding also discussed the need for public and private investment and attention to continue and improve that preparedness both before and after an immediate threat. “We have to sustain the effort, even when the emergency effort subsides,” she said.