CEFR_C2 (IELTS 8-8.5)

7. 3 ways to prepare society for the next pandemic (subtitles)

2022-01-09 18:26:36 simyang 1


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00:05

So I'm an infectious disease epidemiologist,

00:08

and it used to be the case that when I would tell people that,

00:12

they would ask me if it had something to do with the skin.

00:15

(Laughter)

00:18

But thanks to COVID-19, most people have now heard of epidemiologists.

00:23

So these days, when I tell people what I do,

00:26

the questions I get asked most frequently are more like:

00:30

When does this end?

00:33

When do things go back to how they were?

00:36

I get it.

00:38

I am very eager to stop worrying about COVID-19.

00:45

But these questions seem to be imbued with a hope

00:48

that when we get to the other side of all this,

00:51

our prepandemic lives are just going to be waiting for us.

00:56

Now this pandemic will end.

00:59

But it won't be possible just to go back to how it was in 2019.

01:04

Now that may sound bleak, but I assure you, it doesn't have to be.

01:09

Let me tell you a story that's been giving me some hope.

01:12

Feeling better about this.

01:14

Baltimore 1904.

01:17

A lit cigarette was left in the basement

01:20

of the six-story Hurst building.

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Within a half an hour, the fire grew to an out-of-control conflagration.

01:27

Local firefighters were quickly overwhelmed,

01:30

so crews came in from neighboring cities.

01:33

But when they arrived, they couldn't hook up their hoses

01:38

because in 1904

01:40

there were over 600 variations of hose couplings

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on hydrants in the United States.

01:46

The fire destroyed more than 1,500 buildings,

01:48

2,500 businesses.

01:51

And when it was finally extinguished,

01:53

the burnt district, as it was called, spanned more than 80 blocks.

01:58

Fortunately, just a few people died,

02:00

but that was probably a function of luck

02:03

due to the fact that the fire broke out in a business district

02:06

that was uninhabited on the weekends.

02:09

The story of the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 is important for a few reasons.

02:13

To this day, it is one of the largest urban conflagrations in US history.

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And in today’s money,

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the toll of this one event is upwards of three billion dollars.

02:23

But the Great Fire is remarkable not just for its tolls

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but for what happened afterwards.

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Witnessing the devastation that was caused by a single unattended cigarette

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prompted massive change

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in how Baltimore and the rest of the country

02:37

protect itself against urban fires.

02:40

We saw changes in three major areas.

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First, we began using data to make buildings safer

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and to improve the way we respond to fires.

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Governments passed ordinances

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that became the basis of the first building codes:

02:56

standards that inform the design and construction of buildings

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to make them more resistant to fire

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and to protect the people that occupy them.

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We installed fire alarms so that we could detect and pinpoint fires in buildings

03:07

as soon as they occur

03:09

and alert people of the need to evacuate.

03:11

And we created national standards for firefighting equipment

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so that crews coming out of state could hook up their hoses.

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The second area of change is that we created a culture of fire safety.

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We regularly test fire alarms and fire hydrants,

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and we educate people about the risk of fires,

03:29

how to prevent them and what to do when one occurs.

03:33

You remember "stop, drop and roll" fire drills in schools?

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These exercises prime us to act when the alarms go off.

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Even if there's no noticeable sign of fire,

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we know we're supposed to get out of the building

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until someone tells us it's safe to go back.

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The third area of change was that we built up our fire defenses.

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Communities across the country created and staffed fire departments

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so that they'd be ready to respond in emergencies.

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And because we don't know when the next fire is going to occur,

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we operate our fire defenses 24 hours a day, every day,

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and we don't get rid of our fire defenses

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just because we haven't had a fire for a couple of years.

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Data, drills and defense.

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The collective impact of changes implemented in the US since 1904

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has meant that we no longer have the same number of great urban fires

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that were so frequent in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Now I first came to Baltimore 17 years ago,

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actually when the city was gearing up

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to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great Fire.

04:37

I came to study infectious disease outbreaks,

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and even then, well before COVID-19,

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it was abundantly clear that the risk of our experiencing

04:45

a dangerous pandemic

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was high and increasing.

04:49

By the year 2000,

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the number of emerging infectious disease outbreaks that was occurring

04:54

was four times greater than in the 1940s.

04:56

And in the last 17 years, we have witnessed a string of events

05:00

that have each exposed vulnerabilities in how we respond to infectious diseases

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and have challenged us in ways that should have made us really worried

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how we'd fare when the big one hit.

05:09

I first heard about COVID December 2019.

05:13

I was on vacation with my family,

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and in a few weeks we would learn

05:17

that the virus was spreading easily between people.

05:20

As an epidemiologist, that's when the alarms went off.

05:24

At that point, most of my work had been focused on other countries,

05:27

helping places develop the tools they needed

05:29

to stop the spread of new diseases.

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But it was becoming clear the US was not taking the steps it needed

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to protect us from the unfolding pandemic.

05:40

On February 5, 2020,

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I testified before Congress about the US experience of COVID,

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and I said that just closing travel to China

05:50

was not going to be sufficient,

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that we urgently needed to bolster our defenses.

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We had a lot of reasons to be worried.

05:58

Due to budget cuts,

06:00

there were 250,000 fewer public health workers in the US

06:04

than we needed.

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Our hospitals weren’t ready for a surge of patients,

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and the outbreak in China was causing disruptions

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in global supplies of personal protective equipment and medicines.

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But our leaders didn't heed those alarms.

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While other countries, like South Korea, snapped in o action

06:22

developing COVID tests and contact tracing programs,

06:26

the US remained in denial.

06:28

Instead of telling us how to protect ourselves,

06:32

our political leaders tried to assure us we had nothing to worry about.

06:37

Over the last year, I've worked

06:38

with the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center,

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analyzing key COVID data

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and gathering information from governments around the world.

06:45

And for much of the pandemic, we have had an inconsistent picture

06:48

of how much of a crisis COVID has been here in the US

06:52

and who has been most affected

06:55

because states collect and report COVID data in inconsistent ways.

07:02

Still today states report testing data, vaccine data, COVID demographic data

07:07

differently.

07:11

Having nonstandard data, unstandardized data,

07:15

in the midst of a pandemic

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is like not being able to hook up your hoses to the hydrants

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when your country is burning down.

07:24

Today, our culture of safety around infectious diseases is in shambles.

07:29

We finally have vaccines, lifesaving tools to end the pandemic.

07:36

And too many of us won’t take them.

07:41

If we thought about pandemics the way we thought about fires,

07:45

what we would do would be to try to learn as much as possible

07:49

about our vulnerabilities during COVID

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and work to ensure we are never again left so unprotected.

07:55

We would commit to action in three areas.

07:59

Data, drills and defense.

08:03

First, we would develop systems to ensure we have the data we need

08:07

to know when and where there's danger and how best to protect ourselves.

08:11

The next time there's a concerning outbreak in the world,

08:14

we wouldn't just wait until people get sick enough

08:16

to go to the hospital to test them.

08:18

We would go out and start looking for infections

08:20

so that we could detect them as early as possible.

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And every case we find, we would investigate it,

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so that we could quickly learn

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what specific places and activities are most likely to get people sick

08:31

instead of just saying, "Stay home, if you can, for two years."

08:36

And we would develop national data standards,

08:38

so that data from New Jersey

08:40

could be meaningfully compared to data from Oklahoma.

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The second area of action would be to start building a culture of safety

08:49

that empowers us as individuals and businesses

08:51

and community organizations to protect ourselves and others.

08:56

We would work to ensure that everyone had access to in-home tests

09:00

so that we could know if it's safe to go to work or to see family.

09:05

We would teach people about the threat, how to protect themselves

09:09

and how not to spread it to others.

09:12

But this education would be mostly a reminder

09:15

because we would be practicing these skills

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well in advance of the next pandemic.

09:20

We would use every flu season as a drill.

09:24

Long before COVID-19, Taiwan began staging mass vaccination exercises

09:28

every flu season.

09:30

They did this to boost vaccination rates in the most vulnerable,

09:34

but also to practice how they would do it in a pandemic,

09:37

so that well in advance of a crisis,

09:39

people would know where and how they would get a vaccine.

09:43

Now, at a time when the country is incredibly divided,

09:49

I know it may seem impossible

09:51

that we could build this culture of safety around infectious diseases that we need.

09:56

But I have spent the last year and a half talking to all sorts of people

10:00

with a range of views on these issues,

10:03

from top leaders to QAnon believers.

10:07

And I assure you, we all want to protect ourselves and our families.

10:12

But we need to build trust.

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And we can't do that

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if we wait until the next crisis to talk to each other.

10:20

The third area where we'd take action

10:24

is to build our defenses against infectious diseases.

10:28

Instead of a skeletal public health infrastructure

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that waxes and wanes with every crisis,

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we would maintain, for good,

10:36

a large cadre of highly skilled public health professionals

10:39

who work day in and day out

10:41

to make our communities healthier and safer

10:43

and be ready to respond in an emergency.

10:46

We'd reduce our structural vulnerabilities to infectious diseases,

10:50

starting with our buildings,

10:52

updating our building codes and ventilation systems

10:55

so that we could be assured

10:56

that these spaces will not result in super spreading.

11:00

And we would implement economic defenses:

11:03

policies that provide financial and social support to people

11:07

who need to stay home because they're sick

11:09

or a loved one is sick or they need to quarantine

11:13

so they don't have to choose between following public health guidance

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and earning a paycheck.

11:19

Data, drills and defense.

11:22

If we acted

11:24

in these three ways,

11:27

we'd have a much better shot of keeping the next pandemic threat

11:31

to a manageable outbreak

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instead of a blazing inferno that engulfs entire cities and countries.

11:41

When people ask me

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when the pandemic is going to end,

11:48

I don't think they're also wondering when the next one is going to occur.

11:54

They are, understandably, focused on getting past this threat.

12:00

They want to know for how much longer do we have to hold our breath

12:04

until the flames of the pandemic die down.

12:08

But conflagrations don't end just because one was put out.

12:12

The frequency and severity of fires changes when changes are made.

12:18

The same is true for pandemics.

12:23

So when people ask me when are things going to go back to how they were,

12:33

I have to say: hopefully never.

12:38

Thank you.

12:39

(Applause)

12:45

Helen Walters: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.

12:49

So you talked about trust in that --

12:52

and we've seen the vaccine rate, when it's available,

12:56

it's really shockingly low,

12:57

and much of that is really related to trust,

13:00

trust in the systems, trust in society.

13:03

What are ways that you think that we can do a better job as a society

13:07

to convince people that vaccines are safe and people should take them?

13:12

Jennifer B. Nuzzo: I think, first of all, don’t give up on people.

13:15

I have seen people change.

13:16

And you have to come at your conversations with people

13:21

from a place of empathy.

13:23

Try to understand why, right?

13:25

We don't do enough of that,

13:27

trying to understand why people feel that way,

13:30

and engage with them, hear them.

13:32

I have found that just simply giving space to people,

13:35

to allow them to talk about their anxieties and their concerns

13:38

and having the conversation

13:40

takes it from a culture war to just a conversation between human beings.

13:45

And we've lost that ability,

13:47

and part of the pandemic has taken that ability from us

13:51

because we've had few opportunities.

13:54

But we really do have to talk to each other

13:56

and have the hard conversations,

13:58

and just recognize that we're all walking through this world

14:02

trying to get the same things, trying to do the same thing.

14:06

HW: Well, thank you for everything that you’re doing, Jennifer.

14:09

JBN: Thank you.

14:10

(Applause)


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