In a special issue of Nature Medicine, we can read comments and syntheses from many interviews with experts involved in the COVID-19 pandemic response, including scientists who have contributed to groundbreaking research to understand the biology of SARS-CoV-2, the immune response host season and mode of clinical manifestation of COVID-19 to test therapeutic approaches and vaccines. There were also interviews with epidemiologists, public health experts, policymakers and researchers whose work focuses on health systems, managing and implementing health policies. From these conversations – the excerpts published in this series and others that will appear throughout the year in Nature Medicine – several common themes emerged.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us the opportunity to rethink how countries are preparing for public health crisis. This window cannot be wasted.

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