Why focusing on public health is good for the economy

Investing in public health is crucial both for keeping people healthy and for maintaining a strong economy, according to Michelle Williams, dean of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In a wide-ranging interview with Kara Swisher on the New York Times’ Sway podcast, which aired April 12, 2021, Williams said she’d like to see politicians get training in public health “to really understand the primacy of public health in the national security and the economic security of the constituencies that they serve.”

The COVID-19 pandemic’s deep impact on the U.S. economy underscores the fact “that when we underinvest in public health, we do so at our peril,” Williams said. She added that while political leaders have often cited a trade-off between the economy and public health, those two factors do not have to be in conflict. “We should never have anyone force us into health versus economy the way we were struggling with this a year ago,” she said.

She discussed a variety of topics related to the pandemic, including the dangers posed by variants, the importance of continuing to mask and distance, the vaccine rollout, health disparities related to disease prevalence and vaccine distribution, vaccine hesitancy, and vaccine passports.

Listen to the podcast or read a transcript: A Public Health Lesson for Ron DeSantis, From Harvard