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Pandemic Preparedness

Computer screen showing program that tracks disease outbreaks. Pandemic Preparedness, Alert, and Response | June 12-14, 2023


Online only. Course will be live approximately 9:00am-1:00pm (Montreal time) each day June 12-14, 2023. Live content will be recorded.


This course will introduce up-to-date key concepts in the biology, origin, prevention, alert, surveillance and management of the major pandemics including flu, COVID-19, Ebola, monkeypox, AIDS, and others. The course will discuss the global architecture for pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery—touching upon ongoing policy negotiations to revise the International Health Regulations (IHR) and to negotiate a new legal agreement on pandemics. Topics will focus on surveillance methods, tools, technologies, and resource deployment in pandemic response, and equity of their distribution. Public health intervention strategies that prevent pandemics or mitigate their impacts will also be covered. Lectures will be given by experts and leaders in the respected fields.


Chen Liang, PhD
Professor, Department of Medicine, McGill University
Director, McGill Centre for Viral Diseases

Yassen Tcholakov, MD MSc MIH
Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, McGill University
Clinical Lead in Infectious Diseases, Nunavik Department of Public Health


Pandemics have the potential of significantly disturbing our societies and take a heavy toll on human health as vividly illuminated by COVID-19. The goal of this course is to discuss origins of pandemics, review the history of important past pandemics, explore approaches to preventing them and measures required to manage them using lenses of biology, epidemiology, public health, and clinical medicine. We will also reflect the disproportionate impact of pandemics on certain populations and inequity in access to vaccines and medicine. The 2023 class will focus on, 1) public health mitigation strategies, including assurance of equal access to public and medical resources, in containing pandemics, 2) interspecies transmission and origin of pandemic viruses, and the importance and feasibility of virus surveillance in animals, 3) the key role of vaccines in combating pandemics, from flu and smallpox to COVID-19 and 4) global policy negotiations as instruments for pandemic preparedness and response.


By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Explain the origins of pandemics and explain disease characteristics which are associated with pandemic potential
  • List examples of past pandemics and of interspecies transmission of pathogens and important animal reservoirs of pathogens with pandemic potential
  • Describe existing efforts in surveillance in wild animals, viral evolution, the probability in forecasting new pandemics
  • Present the impact of pandemics on social life, mental health, and identify at-risk populations
  • Discuss global intellectual property regulations and their impacts on equity, and novel approaches to encourage innovation and to improve access
  • Summarize different vaccine platforms, new technology in vaccinology
  • Examine the current global architecture of pandemic preparedness, response and resilience
  • Analyze new policy options for instruments for pandemic preparedness and response
  • Apply epidemiological concepts to analyze public health measures used to contain and mitigate the impact of pandemics


  • Clinicians and nurses
  • Undergraduate students, graduate students, medical school students, postdoctoral fellows,
  • Researchers and academics involved in SARS-CoV-2, HIV, influenza research
  • Funding agencies
  • Product development partnerships
  • Policy makers and public health implementers
  • Community advocates and civil society


Maximum 75 participants.


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