We can start by learning from countries that have limited pandemic deaths much more successfully – like Taiwan, South Korea, Germany, Denmark and New Zealand. Here are eight lessons we can learn from them:Be Prepared Make sure we have a Pandemic Plan we’ve tried, tested and learned from (not simply shelved if we didn’t like the results).*Ensure we’ve got the capacity to respond. In a pandemic, countries all over the world will be competing to source diagnostic tests, PPE (personal protective equipment) and ventilators. This means we need a stockpile of equipment – plus UK based diagnostic and equipment companies, so we can be self-sufficient if we need to.*Make sure we have enough CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) masks. They are a lower cost, less invasive aid to breathing compared with ventilators, although ventilators will still be needed for the most serious cases.*Involve logistic/emergency planning experts (from the military, private sector or disaster relief charities) from day one, to ensure policies are deliverable and to oversee successful implementation – like making sure the right PPE gets to where it is needed, when it is needed.*Hospital beds probably aren’t an initial priority. That’s because prevention is always better than cure and we now know how to turn exhibition centres into hospitals at short notice if we need to.*What we can’t do at short notice is turn people into doctors, nurses and public health professionals from scratch. So, we need to start training more health professionals now. Given recent NHS winter crises we’ll probably need them for years ahead anyway.Take Public Health SeriouslyWhat COVID-19 has illustrated is that in pandemics people with underlying health conditions are usually most at risk of dying – and with COVID-19 that includes people who are obese.A doctor currently working in an ICU unit with COVID-19 patients advises us, ‘Unfortunately COVID patients with obesity don’t usually do well. I’ve personally seen this on multiple occasions. Obesity affects pulmonary function and lowers lung compliance, which negatively affects ventilator management.’ Patients like these are most likely to require weeks of expensive, time consuming intensive care and put huge strain on the NHS and its doctors and nurses. Some health conditions are unavoidable and we don’t want to start victim blaming – but the risk of many health conditions can be reduced by following a healthy lifestyle. Importantly, as we have identified as a health charity, there’s much more governments, businesses and employers can do to make healthy choices the easy choices for people.If people are healthier this won’t stop pandemic deaths – but it should reduce them.This means that instead of cutting funding for Public Health, the front line in disease prevention, the government should be investing in prevention.Don’t Waste Time – Respond QuicklyWhen a new virus emerges there’s a chance that its true extent and impact will initially be under-reported in the country of origin, whether to save face politically or because of difficulty diagnosing the virus. That’s the first potential delay. Then, there’s likely to be a time lag while scientists try to identify the virus, its speed and spread of infection, its effect on health and how best to contain it – and while politicians consider the implications.Border ControlPandemics don’t respect national boundaries. International travel by land, air or sea (including cruise ships) can help the rapid spread of pandemics. So, it makes sense to close borders early (and arrange for returning Brits to go into quarantine).Build and maintain public confidenceThis is important if action like nationwide social distancing needs to be introduced and then sustained. Our advice to government is:*Promise less, deliver more – so you build credibility*Lead by example – visibly do what you’re telling the public to do.*Ensure you’ve got the right experts working with you (including logistic experts and experts in the immune system), so you can agree the right policies and then deliver on them.*Share the advice you’re receiving with the public, so they can understand what they are being asked to do and why.ConclusionWhat we have learned from the rapid spread of COVID-19 around the world is that, as in most aspects of health, prevention beats cure. That means: *Be prepared for a pandemic (in reality not just on paper)*Take public health seriously – because a healthy population will usually be more resistant to infection*Don’t waste time – respond quickly, including border controls*Track, Trace and Isolate – to deprive the virus of the human hosts it needs to spread*Stop hospitals and care homes spreading infection – by taking the action needed to reduce the number of cases needing medical treatment in the first place while ensuring there’s enough PPE for staff when cases do need treatment.*Build and maintain public confidence – leading by example and delivering what you promise.