The pandemic presents us with so many urgencies that we have barely had time to worry about the future. It is a typical bias: the urgent blinds us to the important. But the truth is that we already know how to protect ourselves against the next viral crisis. On the one hand it is about correcting the many mistakes we have made during the current one, but that is just the easy part. The hard part is convincing a politician to think beyond a seen term. Current politics has a lot of mass psychological manipulation, and a lot of demographic accounting designed precisely to measure its effects, in a feedback loop that generates monsters. But citizens and companies are interested in the long term, even if only to program their mortgage or pay the transfer of their commercial premises, decide whether to start a family or wait 10 years for the gods to be favorable to us. To manage the only life we have.

What has the covid taught us about future pandemics? It is an important question, because no virologist doubts that more will come. We Europeans now know that our rejection of masks and confinement measures was irrational. The favorite excuse of health managers for having reacted late at the beginning of the year is that on that date Western societies would not have accepted measures that they considered Asian, military and dystopian. But those were the measures that were adopted in March with a reasonable popular response, and the prejudices do not change in two months. We also now know that national economies have to be prepared to support small businesses forced to close and the stream of people losing their jobs. Economic orthodoxy holds that this is not the time to raise taxes, but that time will have to come in times of peace, when everyone has forgotten about SARS-CoV-2.

We also now know that it is possible to develop a vaccine in 10 months, which 10 months ago would have seemed like a gothic tale. But the ultimate reason for this technological milestone is that scientists have spent years and decades hoarding the necessary basic knowledge. That is why rapid vaccines have been developed in scientific powers such as the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, a club of which we are not yet part. The 1.2% of GDP that Spain dedicates to basic and applied research is a shame for the supposed fourth European economy, when neighboring countries double that figure. We have first-line investigators, but we need twice as much. We must also review the structure of our industry, because offshoring has not worked well either with humble masks or with advanced drugs.

The CSIC philosopher Txetxu Ausín says that "anticipation is an ethical duty", and that we need a "social vaccine" against the next pandemic, a vaccine against poverty, inequality and misinformation that affect especially the disadvantaged classes. This is the longest shot of all, but also the most important.


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