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October 25, 2020 5:39 pm

Israel’s Tel Aviv University Launches New Interdisciplinary Center to Combat Covid-19 and Future Pandemics

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Leigh Engineering Faculty Boulevard, Tel Aviv University. Photo: Ido Perelmutter via Wikimedia Commons.

Israel’s Tel Aviv University is launching a special interdisciplinary center to combat the Covid-19 pandemic as well as future mass disease outbreaks.

The Center for Combating Pandemics will examine not only the medical and scientific aspects of pandemics, but also the economic and social effects, and attempt to formulate policies to deal with them more effectively, the university said in a statement.

The Center will focus on frontline policies to contain pandemics, the development of vaccines and other treatments, and examining how nations can stand up economically and socially under the pressures of a pandemic.

The new center’s head, Prof. Itai Benhar of the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research, said, “In the past 15 years, the world has seen a string of viral pathogens infect large numbers of people, among them SARS, MERS, swine flu and avian flu. Clearly, we are not safe from dangerous emerging diseases.”

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“We must look ahead,” he asserted.

Benhar sees the new Center as a long-term investment, saying, “Over the longer term, we envision the Center not only contributing to global efforts to combat and contain the current crisis, but also building the scientific and professional foundations to enable us to successfully cope with the next one.”

Besides the obvious medical aspects of dealing with a pandemic, such as emergency medicine, epidemiology, vaccine and treatment development, and preventative measures, the Center will also bring in scholars of law, public policy, economics, and other fields to examine the broader repercussions of pandemics and recommend solutions.

Prof. Sigal Alon of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, commented, “The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that you can’t separate the medical crisis from the socioeconomic crisis.”

“The Center for Combating Pandemics will boost my ability to incorporate different perspectives in my recommendations to decision-makers to improve the job market in the corona era,” she said.

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