Written by: City of Decatur
2 min read June 2020 — As the world seeks answers to the devastating impact of COVID-19, many of the most critical questions about the virus and how to eradicate it are being routed through Decatur. And while the CDC certainly plays an outsized role in this equation and generates most of the attention, The Task Force for Global Health in Downtown Decatur is quietly using its infrastructure to drive solutions.
“When it comes to our work, we take pride in operating mostly behind-the-scenes and shining the light on our partners rather than ourselves,” said Bill Nichols, executive vice president and COO for The Task Force for Global Health.
Behind the scenes or not, The Task Force has been a crucial force in the worldwide response to the coronavirus pandemic, including coordinating the distribution of 1.4 million pieces of personal protection equipment to hundreds of hospitals and healthcare facilities around the country, strengthening epidemiological and lab skills through training 14,000 individuals around the world, and hosting monthly teleconferences for health officials worldwide to connect and share best practices and treatments.
Additionally, The Task Force is coordinating critical collaborations between the public and private sectors, aligning the contact tracing efforts of tech giants like Apple and Google with health officials around the world.
“This pandemic has clearly changed the way our country thinks about global health, and it’s up to all of us to ensure we don’t lose focus on this critical issue in the future,” said Nichols. “Being properly prepared for a pandemic requires billions of dollars, but it’s an investment worth making as an ‘insurance policy’ to protect against the type of economic fallout we are experiencing.”
While the coronavirus pandemic has thrust discussions about vaccines into the mainstream, The Task Force regularly works on coordinating the vaccine safety efforts related to epidemics affecting areas and regions that are often overlooked. Having this infrastructure in place has allowed the organization to continue its lifesaving work in underserved regions around the globe while also addressing COVID-19, including through its Brighton Collaboration, a worldwide network of over 5,000 vaccine researchers that ensures vaccine safety, and the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI), a program that works with low and middle-income countries around the world to develop their influenza vaccine delivery infrastructure, which will better prepare them for when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.
“Now more than ever, our location in Decatur serves as a major asset when you consider how closely we are working with the CDC, Emory and other Atlanta-based institutions to address the pandemic,” added Nichols. “It also allows us to give back, as we are sharing our global expertise with the Dekalb County Coronavirus Task Force to guide our own community through a safe reopening in the days, weeks and months ahead.”
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