For over a decade, pandemics have been on the UK National Risk Register as both the likeliest and most severe of threats. Non-infectious ‘lifestyle’ diseases were already crippling our healthcare services and our economy. COVID-19 has exposed two critical vulnerabilities: firstly, the UK’s failure to adequately assess and communicate the severity of non-communicable disease; secondly, the health inequalities across our society, due not least to the poor quality of our urban environments. This suggests a potentially disastrous lack of preventative action and risk management more generally, notably with regards to the existential risks from the climate and ecological crises.


© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

Cite as

Black, D., Bates, G., Gibson, A., Hatleskog, E., Fichera, E., Hatchard, J., Md Nazmul, H., Rosenberg, G., Larkin, C., Brierley, R., Kidger, J., Bondy, K., Hickman, M., Pain, K., Hicks, B., Scally, G., Verma, A., Carhart, N., Pilkington, P., Hunt, A. & Ireland, P. 2020, 'Pandemics, vulnerability, and prevention: time to fundamentally reassess how we value and communicate risk?', Cities & Health, 5(S1), pp. S93-S96. https://doi.org/10.1080/23748834.2020.1811480

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Last updated: 29 August 2023
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