Jeremy Farrar

Pandemic protector

1 minute read

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Jeremy Farrar was thinking about how to keep the world safe from infectious diseases. For more than 30 years, he has dedicated his career to understanding and containing the threat posed by emerging pathogens, including during a decade-long stint leading the influential global health charity Wellcome Trust. Now, as the chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Farrar is doing that work—and more—for the world’s pre-eminent health authority.

Farrar, who stepped into his role at the WHO last year, joined the organization at a critical time, when COVID-19 continues to spread and kill thousands of people around the world every week but many countries are inching back toward normal and disbanding their pandemic-era public programs. That makes Farrar’s job of translating science and research into global health policy a complex one: he and his team are trying to contain one extremely high-profile threat even as they help the WHO’s member countries ready their health care systems for pathogens not yet on the horizon and respond to long-standing issues in global health, like the impacts of climate change and the global mental-health epidemic.

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