The lead researchers at the Texas A&M Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program see themselves as scholars — not soothsayers.
But for years, Dr. Gerald Parker and Dr. Christine Blackburn warned officials in Washington D.C. about the need to improve preparations for the next pandemic. They emphasized the urgency for strong, centralized U.S. leadership — both for this nation and for the world. They also warned of vulnerabilities in the nation’s manufacturing chain of medical supplies stretching across the globe, even citing N95 masks made in China as an example.
“You were prophetic,” John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, told the researchers during an exclusive interview. “If everybody had listened to you, we wouldn’t be in quite the mess we are in right now.”
Sharp interviewed Dr. Parker and Dr. Blackburn about the unlearned lessons of past infectious disease outbreaks and the lessons that should be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the second in a special series of television shows called, “COVID-19: The Texas A&M System Responds.” Chancellor Sharp is interviewing scientists, researchers and other leading experts who are helping Texas and the nation fight the pandemic in a variety of ways.
Dr. Parker is director and Dr. Blackburn is deputy director of the Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program at the Scowcroft Institute for International Affairs, which is part of the Bush School of Government and Public Service. Dr. Parker also advises Gov. Greg Abbott on the state’s COVID-19 response.
The interview will air at 7 p.m. Thursday on KAMU-TV in College Station and on other Texas public television affiliates. (Check your local listings.) It also will be available on the system’s YouTube channel: YouTube
“Our scientists and policy advisors are counted on across Texas and all across the world,” Sharp said. “I’m delighted to partner with KAMU and share with Texans our unique roles and expert insights.”