The Pandemic Disaster and Preparedness Center examined what questions need to be answered from different disciplines to be better prepared for a new pandemic. ‘Let this mark the beginning of more collaboration.’
‘The more complete the picture, the better you can fight a crisis.’ With these words, the Cabinet emphasized the need for more complete advice during pandemics. At the beginning of the corona pandemic, advice to the government mainly consisted of the biomedical perspective. To avoid this in the future, the Pandemic Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC) presents an interdisciplinary report that also explains the sociocultural and economic perspective: Learning from a Crisis.
Anja Schreijer, medical director of the PDPC, says, ‘It is necessary to be able to give interdisciplinary and scientific advice. For example, if there is talk about closing schools, we need to be able to provide integrated advice: what does closing or not closing mean for the spread of the virus; what is the social impact on children; what does it mean for the economy?’
Around the table
Different experts worked together on the report: What knowledge did they have at the beginning of the pandemic? This reveals what questions scientists and policy advisers should anticipate in the event of the next pandemic, such as: ‘What are crucial goods during a pandemic for which security of supply must be guaranteed?
Marjolijn Olde Monnikhof of The Social and Cultural Planning Office shed light on the social domain. ‘The social impact of this crisis will be enormous, we knew that in advance. Also that fake news and conspiracy theories would arise. But the social sciences were not prepared to function during a pandemic. It lacked a script and an infrastructure.’
The report shows that it is exactly this infrastructure and organization that is needed during a crisis. Not just for the social sciences, but also for bringing together knowledge from different domains and then jointly providing scientific advice. Bas ter Weel, Professor of Economics at the University of Amsterdam: ‘Let this mark the beginning of more collaboration.’
The report is an initiative of the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center, Het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, the Council for Public Health and Society and UMC Utrecht. During a webinar, Marjolijn Olde Monnikhof, Bas ter Weel and Anja Schreijer explained the report, and there was time for questions. Watch the webinar and download the reports below.