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Our Expert Voices conversation on pandemics.

We don't spend enough time trying to understand why and how previous epidemics occurred or capturing information about them as they are unfolding. We're always chasing outbreaks and scrambling to get research in place long after it should be conducted. And once outbreaks pass, funding and research opportunity dries up.

A model: I'm writing this from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where we're studying survivors of previous Ebola outbreaks (including the very first cohort from 1976) and comparing them to survivors of the current outbreak — rather than waiting and trying to get protocols and ethical approvals after the fact. As recent Ebola and Zika epidemics have demonstrated, governmental and traditional funding cycles are too slow and unresponsive to time-sensitive global health issues.

Bottom line: The research protocols, infrastructure and funding need to be in place so we can be on the ground capturing data as it becomes available. There are no shortage of major problems facing the world, but pandemics, with their unique combination of speed and deadliness, deserve far more attention than they're currently getting. Understanding previous outbreaks and being ready to capture critical data as new ones unfold should be a funding priority.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

Photo: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and to lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.

AP: Justice Dept. rescinds "zero tolerance" policy

A young girl waves to onlookers through the fence at the U.S.-Mexico border wall in San Ysidro, California, in Nov. 2018. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden's acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued a memo on Tuesday to revoke the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which separated thousands of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, AP first reported.

Driving the news: A recent report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz emphasized the internal chaos at the agency over the implementation of the policy, which resulted in 545 parents separated from their children as of October 2020.