Georgetown Researchers Launch Online Library Chronicling 25 Years of Pandemic Preparedness Policy

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Karen Teber

WASHINGTON (January 12, 2021) — Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security (GHSS) today announced the launch of the most comprehensive collection of documents from the last two and a half decades of pandemic preparedness planning.

The online collection, “Health Security Net,” was unveiled January 12 at the Futures Forum on Preparedness, which convened health, science and policy leaders from around the world to debut groundbreaking research on the global COVID-19 response and reimagine the future of public health. The online, searchable library contains nearly 1,300 reports chronicling 25 years of pandemic preparedness policy among international organizations as well as the United States.

“Having a complete and indexed record of historical threat awareness and preparedness spanning the last 25 years is critically important to preparing for a future public health crisis,” said Rebecca Katz, PhD, director of the GHSS, who introduced the tool designed for policymakers, researchers, journalists and others. She was joined by project collaborators Ellie Graeden, PhD, founder and CEO of Talus Analytics and adjunct associate professor at Georgetown, and Ellen P. Carlin, DVM, assistant research professor at Georgetown. Both are members of the GHSS.

Prior to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, a wealth of work — research, government reviews, expert analyses and hearings — had provided information for decision-makers and others on threat and risk awareness for pandemic-prone diseases, and offered guidance on how to prevent, prepare and plan for, respond to, and recover from pandemics. The Health Security Net library provides access to that body of work: the warnings, evaluations, oversight efforts, strategies and other documents related to pandemics and pandemic risk prior to 2020. It is a dynamic database that will grow over time as additional records are researched and added to the collection.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, celebrated the collection in a video message delivered at the forum.

“I… commend Rebecca Katz and her team at Georgetown University on the launch of the global health security library, which will be a valuable resource,” Ghebreyesus said.

Users can search for specific documents using keywords and filters, or browse by category, publishing organization, specific event and more. Documents can be bookmarked to view later or downloaded directly from the site (where available).

Katz said, “The ultimate goal is to more effectively apply what we know to the events at hand — something that would have improved our nation and the world’s response to the current pandemic.”

The GHSS led the policy research effort, including development of methodology, data collection, curation, and coding. Talus Analytics developed the taxonomy and ontologies for the documentation, integration with the epidemiological data and analysis, and designed, built and maintains the interactive library site. The work was funded by Schmidt Futures.