Policy Lessons from the History of Pandemic Preparedness

Our twenty-third COVID-19 white paper is “Policy Lessons from the History of Pandemic Preparedness,” by George J. Busenberg.


This white paper draws lessons for policy progress from the recent history of pandemic preparedness in the United States, with a focus on the Strategic National Stockpile of medical and protective equipment that forms an essential element of pandemic response efforts. This paper finds that supplies of vital protective equipment in the Strategic National Stockpile were greatly diminished in the years preceding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic; this atrophy of pandemic vigilance contributed to prolonged shortages of equipment needed to protect healthcare workers and first responders from infection during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper proposes a strategy of reform for the Strategic National Stockpile designed to secure a sustained evolution of vigilance for the purpose of defending the United States against future pandemics.