• Analytical
  • Scientific
  • Overview


COVID-19 isn’t a zombie apocalypse or a mass extinction event, assures physician and epidemiologist Larry Brilliant. However, the deadly pandemic that’s infecting millions globally calls for stronger disease control and strategy. Learn which countries the world should emulate and which serve as a cautionary tale in this conversation between TED curator Chris Anderson and Brilliant, an adviser for the 2011 film Contagion.


Countries that quickly detected and responded to the COVID-19 outbreak spared lives and slowed down the spread of the illness at the peak of the infection.

Rapidly detecting and responding to an outbreak is crucial. A swift response at the start prevents deaths and the spread of illness amid the outbreak’s peak. Some countries have excelled at this “early detection, early response” strategy for the COVID-19 pandemic – namely, New Zealand, Iceland and Taiwan. Others, like South Korea and Germany, performed above average. 

However, the United States and the United Kingdom have both failed at early detection and response, and cumulatively, the globe is staggering through the pandemic.

A stalled response in most nations has allowed the COVID-19 pandemic to outpace disease control and scientific research.

Factors such as fear, political ineptitude and underestimating the virus stalled many nations’ responses. This behavior ...

About the Speaker

Physician, epidemiologist and author Larry Brilliant helped rid the world of smallpox. He served an adviser for the movie Contagion. Chris Anderson is the curator of TED.

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

How to Rebuild the Global Economy
What We Do (and Don’t) Know About Coronavirus
Why COVID-19 Is Hitting Us Now – and How to Prepare for the Next Outbreak
Design’s Response to the Crises of 2020
New Business Models Emerging from the Crisis
How to Shift Your Mindset and Choose Your Future

Related Channels