Early Warnings: The Lessons of COVID-19 for Public Health Climate Preparedness

Mary C. Sheehan, Mary A. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The early 2020 response to COVID-19 revealed major gaps in public health systems around the world as many were overwhelmed by a quickly-spreading new coronavirus. While the critical task at hand is turning the tide on COVID-19, this pandemic serves as a clarion call to governments and citizens alike to ensure public health systems are better prepared to meet the emergencies of the future, many of which will be climate-related. Learning from the successes as well as the failures of the pandemic response provides some guidance. We apply several recommendations of a recent World Health Organization Policy Brief on COVID-19 response to 5 key areas of public health systems – governance, information, services, determinants, and capacity – to suggest early lessons from the coronavirus pandemic for climate change preparedness. COVID-19 has demonstrated how essential public health is to well-functioning human societies and how high the economic cost of an unprepared health system can be. This pandemic provides valuable early warnings, with lessons for building public health resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-270
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • COVID-19
  • climate change
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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