COVID-19 has affected the lives of millions of people, and continues to be a disaster for public health and the global economy. In her talk, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization, discusses the status of the pandemic in October 2021, why some countries had more success fighting COVID-19 in the early phases and others in the later phases, what the WHO has done to mitigate its impact, the lessons we should take away from COVID-19, and how to better prepare for the next pandemic.

Distinguished Speaker

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan

Chief Scientist, WHO

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan was appointed first Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2019. A pediatrician from India and a globally recognized researcher on tuberculosis and HIV, she brings with her 30 years of experience in clinical care and research and has worked throughout her career to translate research into impactful programs. Dr. Swaminathan was Secretary to the Government of India for Health Research and Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research from 2015 to 2017. In that position, she focused on bringing science and evidence into health policy making, building research capacity in Indian medical schools and forging south-south partnerships in health sciences. From 2009 to 2011, she also served as Coordinator of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases in Geneva.

She received her academic training in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and has published more than 350 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. She is an elected Foreign Fellow of the US National Academy of Medicine and a Fellow of all three science academies in India. The Science division’s role is to ensure that WHO stays ahead of the curve and leverages advances in science and technology for public health and clinical care, as well as ensuring that the norms, standards and guidelines produced by WHO are scientifically excellent, relevant and timely. Her vision is to ensure that WHO is at the cutting edge of science and is able to translate new knowledge into meaningful impact on population health worldwide.

Moderators

headshot of wendy parmet

Wendy Parmet

Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law and Director, Center for Health Policy and Law, Northeastern University

Wendy Parmet, a leading expert on health, disability and public health law, directs the law school’s Center for Health Policy and Law as well as its JD/MPH programs. She also holds a joint appointment with Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs in recognition of her national leadership in interdisciplinary thinking and problem solving on issues related to health care.

Ravi Ramamurti

Ravi Ramamurti

University Distinguished Professor, International Business and Strategy and Center for Emerging Markets Director

Ravi Ramamurti, founding director of the Center for Emerging Markets, has published eight books on strategy in emerging markets and a number of award-winning articles on the topic. He was elected a fellow of the Academy of International Business in 2008.