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Building a multisystemic understanding of societal resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic

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World
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BMJ
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Didier Wernli, Mia Clausin, Nino Antulov-Fantulin, John Berezowski, Nikola Biller, Karl Blanchet, Lucas Böttcher, Claudine Burton-Jeangros, Gérard Escher, Antoine Flahault, Keiji Fukuda,10 Dirk Helbing, Philip D Jaffé, Peter Søgaard Jørgensen, Yuliya Kaspiarovich, Jaya Krishnakumar, Roderick John Lawrence, Kelley Lee, Anaïs Léger, Nicolas Levrat,
Romain Martischang, Chantal M Morel, Didier Pittet, Maxime Stauffer, Fabrizio Tediosi, Flore Vanackere, Jean-Dominique Vassalli, Gaélane Wolff, Oran Young

Abstract

The current global systemic crisis reveals how globalised societies are unprepared to face a pandemic. Beyond the dramatic loss of human life, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered widespread disturbances in health, social, economic, environmental and governance systems in many countries across the world. Resilience describes the capacities of natural and human systems to prevent, react to and recover from shocks. Societal resilience to the current COVID-19 pandemic relates to the ability of societies in maintaining their core functions while minimising the impact of the pandemic and other societal effects. Drawing on the emerging evidence about resilience in health, social, economic, environmental and governance systems, this paper delineates a multisystemic understanding of societal resilience to COVID-19. Such an understanding provides the foundation for an integrated approach to build societal resilience to current and future pandemics.

Summary box

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has tested resilience in health but also social, economic, environmental and governance systems across the world.

  • Progress has been made in recent years to define and assess health system resilience, but broader societal resilience to emerging infectious diseases is not well defined.

  • Societal resilience to the current COVID-19 pandemic relates to the ability of societies to maintain their core functions while minimising the health impact of the pandemic and other societal effects.

  • Developing evidence about resilience in different systems will serve as the foundation for an integrated approach to build societal resilience to COVID-19 and future pandemics.