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Not since the threat of global nuclear war first emerged has humankind faced the risks of potential disasters at the scale that the 21st century now brings. Climate change, international terrorism, pandemics, and cyberwarfare are only some of the ways in which injury, morbidity, and mortality can spread rapidly to millions of people. Ebola, as tragic as it has been, is but a small example of what could occur if, for instance, a nuclear blast went off in New York, sea level surges flooded Florida, or the electric grid went down in a health emergency. The current coronavirus epidemic in China has created a major international public health threat, led to the full or partial quarantine of nearly 45 million people, and interrupted commerce in many cities.1
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Corresponding Author: Donald M. Berwick, MD, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), 53 State St, 19th Floor, Boston, MA 02109 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: February 6, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.1310
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article represent those of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily represent the position or recommendations of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).
Additional Information: Drs Berwick and Shine served as cochairs of the NASEM initiative “Enhancing Private Sector Preparedness for 21st Century Health Threats.”
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