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expert response to comment piece by David Cameron in the Times – We need a new international body to sound the alarm earlier

Former Prime Minister David Cameron wrote an article calling for a new international body to sound the alarm earlier on pandemics.


Dr Gail Carson, Director of Network Development at ISARIC (International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium), and Consultant in Infectious Diseases, University of Oxford, said:

“Dear Mr Cameron,

“Before the G20 meeting I ask you to engage widely with the international community of practitioners, partners and stakeholders who live and breathe the subject of preparedness and response. Many of the components, institutions and networks that you elude already exist. Together they link from discovery of new viruses through to the care of patients.  And, not all are flu focussed, even before Disease X was called Disease X, we were aware that one day we may face an unknown virus.

“If we must define a problem let’s agree that it is a ‘wicked problem’, complex by nature and one where national concerns, priorities battle against those requirements of the International Health Regulations of which WHOs’ member states signed up to. I would hope that you would agree with me that one thing this pandemic is teaching us is that despite the national or local lock downs we are all so dependent on each other and that includes across borders. As we know the virus certainly does not recognise borders. There are numerous reports, reviews, plans and many leaders in the field who would agree that we already have what is needed, yes it could be better organised but they would all agree that this area is underfunded. 

“More than happy to consult with you further on this matter.”


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:


Declared interests

Prof Gail Carson: 20 years of the Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network current Deputy Chair; worked for the WHO during H1N1 2009, SARS 2003 and VHF outbreaks. 

Member of WHO COVID19 Scientific working groups. 

Co authored a background paper to the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board on Coordination and Governance 

Director of Network Development at ISARIC – an epidemic research preparedness international network 

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