What Emergency Managers can learn from the Lessons from the COVID War Report

As President Biden signed a resolution to end the national emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and disband the COVID response team, an investigative report titled, “Lessons from the Covid War: An Investigative Report” has been released by the nonpartisan Covid Crisis Group. This groundbreaking report digs deep into what went wrong during the pandemic response and what emergency managers can learn from it. Let’s discuss the key takeaways, how this impacts public policy, and the world post-pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic tested every corner of society in unprecedented ways. Governments, public health agencies, and citizens worldwide were required to adapt and respond in order to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their economies. As we move forward, it is important to learn from these experiences. Recently, the Covid Crisis Group released an investigative report highlighting critical insights that can help us prepare for future global crises. The main emphasis of the report was not on the lack of resources or scientific knowledge, but on the lack of readiness.

Key Findings from the Report

According to Philip Zelikow, head of the Covid Crisis Group, “The key to this crisis and the key to what went wrong was we weren’t really ready to meet an emergency… The problem was in knowing what to do and being ready to do it.” In essence, this was a crisis of competence rather than a crisis of science. The failure stemmed from not knowing what to do, how to do it, and ultimately, being ill-prepared.

The Success and Flaws of Operation Warp Speed

Operation Warp Speed, the vaccine development and distribution program, is cited as a success story in the report. Although it had some flaws, it showcased how the government, when backed by resources, could expedite crucial scientific endeavors to curb the pandemic. The program remained relatively insulated from political interference, enabling a faster response.

However, the communication efforts surrounding the vaccine were criticized for being poor and disregarding lessons from previous crises. Clear messaging and trust-building measures are crucial during times of crisis, and these were not prioritized during the early stages of the pandemic.

Post-Pandemic World and Lessons for the Future

As the world begins to envision a post-pandemic reality, the Lessons from the COVID War report provides valuable insights for the future. Here are some critical takeaways:

  • Improved Preparedness: The government, public health organizations, and medical establishments need to develop comprehensive preparedness plans to ensure they are equipped to handle any future crises. This includes robust contingency plans, supply chain management, and resources allocation.


  • Strengthened Communication: The importance of clear, consistent, and transparent communication cannot be overstated. Lessons from the report should be used to formulate communication strategies that maintain public confidence and trust in critical institutions.


  • Collaboration: The report underscores the importance of international collaboration. Solving global crises requires a collective effort among researchers, governments, and the global community.


  • Resilience Building: The pandemic demonstrated the importance of resilient healthcare systems capable of absorbing shocks without being overwhelmed. Improved capacity-building and investments in public health infrastructure are vital.
Young person of color wearing a teal blue mask

Impact on Public Policy, Health Organizations, and International Relations

The Lessons from the COVID War report holds the potential to leave a lasting impact on public policy, and global health organizations. The report also recommends a variety of measures that should be taken in order to improve public health systems worldwide, including strengthening international relations. The immense body of research it features can be used to inform public policy decisions, influence the investment choices of global health organizations, and shape international dialogues on how to manage future pandemics.


So what are the lessons specifically for local emergency managers?

Local emergency managers should prioritize developing comprehensive preparedness plans that are flexible enough to address any future crises. These plans should include detailed contingencies, supply chain management, and resource allocation. Additionally, they should take steps to strengthen communication with the public in order to increase trust and confidence in government institutions. They also need to invest time and resources into increasing public health infrastructure and building resilience in healthcare systems. Finally, they should foster international cooperation with both public and private organizations to support global pandemic prevention efforts. By implementing these strategies, local emergency managers can be better prepared for any future crises and ensure the safety of their communities.


In conclusion, the Lessons from the COVID War report provides valuable insights on how to manage future pandemics. By leveraging the research and recommendations outlined in this report, local emergency managers can optimize their preparedness plans and strengthen communication with the public in order to ensure a more resilient response in any future crises. This comprehensive understanding of pandemic management is essential for creating a safe, healthy, and secure future.

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