WHAT HAPPENS TO Cassandras when their warnings become reality? If you are epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, you work to mitigate a situation that would not have been so terrible if people had listened to you in the first place. Pre-Covid Brilliant, along with many of his peers, had been ringing the alarm on pandemics in op-eds, a much-viewed TED talk, and a tragically prophetic horror movie he advised on called Contagion. In the last year, Brilliant—best known for his work in helping to eradicate smallpox—has been active in helping people understand Covid-19, as founder and CEO of Pandefense Advisory.
Now, along with noted epidemiologist Ian Lipkin and Pandefense Advisory colleagues Lisa Danzig and Karen Pak Oppenheimer, he has proposed a plan to help us avoid an unnecessarily lengthy recovery. Basically, Brilliant and his coauthors are instructing us to discard the panacea of herd immunity and gird ourselves for localized combat against a virus that produces ever more infectious variants. Ultimately, Brilliant envisions a framework that will not only get us to normalish but also position us to fend off pandemics to come.