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'There Was An Assumption We Would Be Prepared': CMU Professor Says U.S. Didn't Have Public Health Infrastructure In Place To Mitigate Pandemic Fallout

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - There are warnings that the coronavirus pandemic could change the world order as it reveals nation's strengths and weaknesses. A Pittsburgh expert and his students will be watching closely.

From Capitol Hill to international security conferences to the campus of Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Colin Clarke is widely recognized as an expert on terrorism and threats to global stability.

In one of the courses he teaches at CMU's Institute for Politics and Strategy, he routinely asks students to rank the following threats: terrorism, climate change, nuclear proliferation, global pandemics and trade protectionism.

"And I ask them to vote, one to five, one being most threatening and five being the least, where they see these threats stack up," says Clarke.

"And every year without fail, global pandemics comes in at number five."

Clarke says students normally rank nuclear proliferation number one, followed by terrorism or climate change. But he says now, because of what we've learned about our vulnerability, he would put pandemics behind only nuclear threats.

"There was an assumption we would be prepared, as a global community but moreover as the United States, that there would be the public health infrastructure in place to mitigate the fallout from a global pandemic."

Clarke says addressing that could be a challenge similar to what we've seen in the approach to preventing terrorism over the last 20 years.

"And I only hope that we can apply some of the lessons we've taken post 9-11, some of the same strength, energy, and resources, and apply those to dealing with global pandemics. Because it's clearly something we were not prepared for."

At the same time, Clarke says the U.S. will have to be cautious. He says as leaders turn inward to focus on problems with public health, it will inevitably lead to some pulling back around the world.

"And ultimately, when the United States is less involved globally, it makes the world a more dangerous place."


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