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We Knew This Pandemic Was Coming

National Museum of Health and Medicine
Creative Commons
1918 Influenza Pandemic

This show originally aired on July 25, 2018.

Two years ago, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, alongside government leaders, ran an intricate simulation of a rapidly spreading pandemic. Their goal was to talk about the difficult ethical questions that arise in the event of a public health crisis. These are the same questions we find ourselves confronting today.


The CDC said another pandemic was coming and that there was a good chance  President Trump would be confronted with it. Yet, he cut funding for pandemic preparedness in place to curb deadly global outbreaks and rid his administration of scientific advisors. 

Just under 150 million died globally by the end of the Johns Hopkins simulation. It doesn't have to end this way now or in future pandemics. But the threat won't go away simply because we choose to ignore it. 


  • Ed Yong - Science writer for The Atlantic and is the author of I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life. (@edyong209)
  • Eric Toner - Senior Scholar with the John Hopkins Center for Health Security and Senior Scientist for John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Environmental Health and Engineering. (@JHSPH_CHS)
  • Laura Spinney - Science journalist and the author of most recently, Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed The World. (@lfspinney)

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.