By Gian Luca Burci
The COVID-19 pandemic has been characterized by mistrust in science, the manipulation of science for political purposes, the “infodemic” of mis- and disinformation, and a repeated failure to base policy decisions on scientific findings.
The crisis of confidence in scientific analysis is paradoxical and disquieting, particularly in light of increasing international regulation to manage acute or systemic risks and its reliance on science. This so-called “science-policy interface” (SPI) incorporates scientific expertise into global policy-making and regulation in fields as diverse as climate change, biodiversity, and nuclear safety, but it is arguably less developed in global health and in particular for pandemic preparedness and response (PPR).
As international policymakers consider various proposals aimed at preventing another pandemic through better and stronger global rules — whether in the form of a WHO “pandemic treaty,” revised International Health Regulations, a UN political declaration, or regulatory framework — the integration of SPI in their design will be of crucial importance for their credibility and effectiveness.